Thanksgiving

Blogs are like breakfast

Something that should be apparent in the world these days is the difference between blogging and other mediums. 

This is not a newspaper. I am not a reported. This is not an entry in a peer-reviewed journal or an encyclopedia. This blog is not a sermon. Because it publishes with great regularity (although not so far this month!) it is a direct reflection of the continuing ongoing thoughts in my life. 

Trying to find a metaphor that best expresses the etiquette of a blog, I fell short. Luckily this metaphor came across my reader from swissmiss

“There’s something sacred about reading a blog post on someone else’s site. It’s like visiting a friend’s house for a quick meal ’round the breakfast table. It’s personal — you’re in their space, and the environment is uniquely suited for idea exchange and uninterrupted conversation. In many ways, we should be treating our blogs like our breakfast tables. Be welcoming & gracious when you host, and kind & respectful when visiting.” – Trent Walton

As such, I have always tried to be respectful of those who take time to sit at this table. You are not required to sign in or even have a name associated with your comments. You are free to share as much as you like under a very open Creative Commons License. Just a reminder to everyone that blogs are personal things. It required vulnerability. It requires time. It requires patience and commitment. It does not require readers or subscribers. Blogs are written for those who write them and we the readers are not mandated to read. I am thankful for those who write (see "Change Agents" to the right) and allow me the opportunity to set up to their table and share in a meal. See how they are doing. Hear what they are thinking and walk away without a sense of reciprocity.

Where are the other nine?

There is a scripture that tells of a story in which Jesus encountered ten lepers who cried out to be healed.  Jesus tells them to go and show themselves to the priests and, the story shares, the people were healed along the way.  One of these people who was healed along the way returns back to Jesus and thanks him.  Jesus asks where the other nine?  I do not know, but one could conjecture a few ideas on why these people did not thank Jesus.

Perhaps one person ran and told all the people she could.
Perhaps one person just plain forgot.
Perhaps one person could not find Jesus who was traveling across the land.
Perhaps one person one ran home to connect with his family.
Perhaps one person discovered a way to make money off the miracle.
Perhaps one person became a priest who felt a call after their mountain top experience.
Perhaps one person was just shocked and immobilized.
Perhaps one person just did not know how to thank Jesus.
Perhaps one person was so self-involved that he believed that he deserved to be healed and did not see a need to thank Jesus.

This text is often used to discuss that we ought to have an "attitude of gratitude" or how we ought to give thanks for our blessings.

And this is not a bad or wrong interpretation.

What I was considering the other day about this text is how the ones who did not return were all still convinced of the purity codes of their day.  That is to say, they go to their priests who are symbols of the religious authorities and ones who could declare people "clean" or not.  As such when those who went to the priests were ones who still affirmed the religious order of their day.

They still believed that there could be unclean people who ought to be separated from the clean people.  While they were now clean, they themselves still bought into the idea that society could declare some people inferior.  Perhaps they would even encounter another "unclean" person and stay away from them.

However, the one who returned to Jesus was the one who did may not have said thank you (the text says he only prostrated himself before Jesus).  We can be certain though, that the one who returned rejected the system of declaring people clean and unclean.  This one, did show himself to the Great Priest, and in doing so made a statement that he understands what Jesus understands - no one can declare another person subhuman.  No one is unclean in the sight of God.  No one is allowed to lord himself over others in such a way to perpetuate a discriminatory system.

Perhaps this is why Jesus asks where the other nine are?  Perhaps Jesus is disappointed to see that only one in ten got his message and rejected the powers that be.

All ten were healed, but only one was set free.  Only one broke away from the system that creates more unclean people.

Only one.

Quotes on Thankfulness

Gratitude... goes beyond the "mine" and "thine" and claims the truth that all of life is a pure gift. In the past I always thought of gratitude as a spontaneous response to the awareness of gifts received, but now I realize that gratitude can also be lived as a discipline. The discipline of gratitude is the explicit effort to acknowledge that all I am and have is given to me as a gift of love, a gift to be celebrated with joy. 

 --Henri J. M. Nouwen

Resentment and gratitude cannot coexist, since resentment blocks the perception and experience of life as a gift. My resentment tells me that I don't receive what I deserve. It always manifests itself in envy.  --Henri J. M. Nouwen


Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint. I can choose to grateful when I am criticized, even when my heart still responds in bitterness. I can choose to speak about goodness and beauty, even when my inner eye still looks for someone to accuse or something to call ugly. 
 --Henri J. M. Nouwen

Being thankful is not telling God you appreciate the fact that your life is not in shambles. If that is the basis of your gratitude, you are on slippery ground. Every day of your life you face the possibility that a blessing in your life may be taken away. But blessings are only signs of God's love. The real blessing, of course, is the love itself. Whenever we get too attached to the sign, we lose our grasp on the God who gave it to us. Churches are filled with widows who can explain this to you. We are not ultimately grateful that we are still holding our blessings. We are grateful that we are held by God even when the blessings are slipping through our fingers.   --Craig Barnes
{The soul} must forget about {understanding}, and abandon itself into the arms of love, and His Majesty will teach it what to do next; almost its whole work is to realize its unworthiness to receive such great good and to occupy itself in thanksgiving.   --Teresa of Avila
 
You say, 'If I had a little more, I should be very satisfied.' You make a mistake. If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled.  --Charles Haddon Spurgeon 

The optimist says, the cup is half full. The pessimist says, the cup is half empty. The child of God says; My cup runneth over. 
 --Anonymous 

The most important prayer in the world is just two words long: "Thank you"   --Meister Eckhart 

We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts He has in store for us, because we do not give thanks for daily gifts. We think we dare not be satisfied with the small measure of spiritual knowledge, experience, and love that has been given to us, and that we must constantly be looking forward eagerly for the highest good. Then we deplore the fact that we lack the deep certainty, the strong faith, and the rich experience that God has given to others, and we consider this lament to be pious. We pray for the big things and forget to give thanks for the ordinary, small (and yet really not small) gifts. How can God entrust great things to one who will not thankfully receive from Him the little things?   --Dietrich Bonhoeffer

It must be an odd feeling to be thankful to nobody in particular. Christians in public institutions often see this odd thing happening on Thanksgiving Day. Everyone in the institution seems to be thankful "in general." It's very strange. It's a little like being married in general.   --Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.

One year ago...

A year ago I installed software on this blog that tracks different bits of information from the number of visits it gets in a day to the amount of people who use Firefox or Internet Explore to view the site. These "analytics" are interesting to me and really fuel my ego.

A year ago today this site had 11 visits. All of those visits were from computers in Texas and 5 of those visits were people who had visited the site at least once before. Here is a link to what those 11 people saw that day:


Fast forward a year and, according to the same analytic software, yesterday (I do not have the full report for today) this same site had 49 visitors from 7 different states (TX, CA, PA, AR, OK, NC, and NY) and 12 of those people had never visited before.

For those of you still reading, what I want to share is a humble thank you. These numbers are noting to write home about but I am overwhelmed that anyone (much less 50 people) would, in the middle of their day, log on to read and sometimes comment on the garble that I post here.

So thank you for taking the time to read and respond. Thank you for willing to engage this blog even if most of you are family and close friends. Thank you for reminding me that everyone is more influential than we each think.