Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Hello, this is Gary Hoovestal with some thoughts on this fourth Thursday of November, 2011. Thanksgiving Day is America’s oldest tradition. Perhaps no other custom reveals the character of Americans as does the celebration of Thanksgiving: a public recognition of the Grace of God on a beloved day of tranquility, a celebration of gratitude, of rejoicing, of contrition, of giving: a day of humble awareness of our source of divine guidance.
Why is this a special day for me? Because it is a day that reminds me of the many gifts that I too often take for granted, gifts that come from a source I choose to call God. Thanksgiving is a special day for me because it is the first traditional gathering of the year for our families; families inspired once again to reaffirm with our Creator the blessings of brotherhood, harmony and peace.
The spirit of Thanksgiving is more than one of giving thanks; it calls for us to share our blessings with others, to erase the prejudices that alienate us, one from another; to recognize that we are all brothers and sisters sharing a common mother. It is a spirit that summons us to pause in the middle of our activity to not only give thanks for our enriched fortunes, but equally important, to remember to pray for, and to assist those in need of food, shelter, and hope.
The Greenway Team has travelled worldwide; we have seen the squalor of Cité Soleil, we have seen the hopelessness of the City of the Dreadful Night, we have seen the distorted bellies in the refugee camps of Rwanda, we have seen bodies strewn in the streets of Iraq, we have seen the gaunt faces of Aids in Swaziland. We know of the purges of Pol Pot, of Hitler, of Stalin. Because of this, the Greenway Team is among the most aware of the magnitude of our great fortune. As I have traveled and seen the poverty, disease, conflict and despair of other cultures, I have been struck by feelings of guilt for my good fortune. I know all too well the depth of thanksgiving that I must confess. I know that among my greatest confessions of thanks is that of the Greenway Team, that of the Greenway heroes that have carried the banner of Greenway’s success . The counting of the list of Greenway heroes, and to me, heroes they are, I reserve for a later recitation.
America has come far from that first Thanksgiving in Plymouth in 1621. The United States and its people have been blessed…the rest of the world is well aware of this. It seems as if it was almost a divine plan that placed this nation between the two great oceans, between geographical latitudes conducive to the production of the rich bounty we enjoy, a divine plan that brought the first colonies of freedom – seeking pilgrims with traditions of charity, peace and good will, a divine plan that brought the subsequent immigrants seeking a better life, immigrants that have made “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” a reality. It seems as if it was almost a divine plan that gave us the leadership of George Washington, our nation’s founding father and that of Abraham Lincoln, who gave his life in order that this great nation “would long endure.” It is indeed an honor to be a citizen of a country of such magnificent heritage and although there is much that is of concern, my allegiance to my homeland shall never waiver. Let us call upon divine providence for guidance for the leaders of our great nation.
As we reflect on our blessings, we must remember that we are the recipients of the generosity, talent, and contributions of those that have come before us and proclaim remembrance of our debt to those who have set aside their own safety and made the supreme sacrifice for our nation… for us.
When we rise on Thanksgiving morning, let us pause as we begin this glorious day counting the things that we have to be thankful for and as we are seated at the table and our outpouring of thanks comes to a crescendo, let us lay aside all shortcomings, forgetting what we have not, but rejoicing in what we have, rejoicing in the veneration of gratitude. Let every home, every heart, be filled with the brotherhood of man, not only in America but throughout the world. Let us give thanks to our Host who has given us so much.
This is my prayer of thanks:
Lord, hear my prayer.
I give thanks for the twelve years of companionship with my Shadow.
I give thanks for the strength to persist.
I give thanks for my family, their health and prosperity.
I give thanks for my parents and their guidance.
I give thanks for my American citizenship.
I give thanks for the Greenway Team.
I give thanks for the opportunities that I have been given.
I give thanks for my good fortune.
I pray for comfort and peace for those that have fought and died defending our nation
and ask for blessings on their families and loved ones.
I pray for the souls of our enemies that have perished at our hands.
I pray for those amongst us who are less fortunate, those who live in poverty, disease,
conflict and despair, and ask that they be comforted, but for the grace of God, there I walk.
I pray that the grace of your goodness permeate our world
and begins a new era of compassion, prosperity and peace.
I pray for strength to be worthy of your grace.
Lord, hear my prayer. Amen