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This thanksgiving eve I want to talk with you about people in my history who have passed on to the life eternal. They no longer live, but it is not death that I want to focus on this evening of gratitude. It is the gift of their lives that I appreciate much more now that they are gone. May and Marcia where interesting and complicated souls. They were also two of the founding six members of the Saints and Sinners baking and cooking group.
I am fully convinced that people get to know each other in a deeper and more intimate way when they are kneading dough, chopping onions through tears, all smelling the same broth and then sitting together at table to consume what has been wrestled out of hands into pots or ovens. This is the relationship that I had with both of these women.
There are deeply personal experiences that I shared with both of these women that would have never happened if they had not shown up on Monday mornings and began listening and speaking. We talked of politics, religion, church gossip, talking old histories and asking questions of each other. It was not my expectations that such activities would lead me into deeper relationships with others, but they did.
So, when Marcia told me she had stage four cancer, but wanted no one to know, we spent months talking about her fears, pain and frustrations. In the end it was both sad and gratifying to say goodbye, pray and know that she could say with confidence that she was ready for this final stage in death. What an intimate gift I was given in those last days to be present not only as a pastor, but a confidant in an experience that only she would have.
Then there was May who did not suffer fools wisely. Yet that is what always endeared me to her. I always told her that she could take as much as she could give. Yet, there was a side that many people would never see of May that I was was fortunate to see in our private pastoral conversations. When someone says the words, “I have never told this to another soul…” One should sit up and take notice. I had conversations with May that still make me think.
So, on this holiday I will do as the Psalmist says and “Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay my vows unto the most High.” With gratitude I will sit down tomorrow with a meal that I have helped create with my own hands and realize that those who I share this meal are people whom I am still excited to learn more about. It is my wish that you will break bread, clink glasses and grow closer to those whom you share intimate meals with. It will be you who will be changed in the process of opening yourself up to other’s and letting them in.
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