I am grateful for so many blessings in my life. I know you are too. We all have been blessed in an endless variety of ways. Thanksgiving presents us an opportunity to gather together with our family and friends, and share the gift of time together and reflection on our blessings.
As time goes by I seem to need more effort to open my senses and notice my blessings. The blessings are there, I just overlook them within the busyness of a day and the challenge of a moment. In November and December the busyness increases as the holidays blend together and my calendar fills.
In preparing for Thanksgiving this year, I took trips to a variety of stores. A butcher that has the best meats. A local bakery you can smell as you enter the parking lot. I try to shop locally. This always includes a trip to the roadside produce stand of a local farmer, my friend Elaine. Her house and fields are but a few yards from her roadside stand. There are chickens wandering around, the source of Elaine’s fresh eggs. A variety of produce baskets are always brimming with the harvest she just brought in. More than once she has had me wait as she takes a walk to the vegetable garden or pulls peaches or apples right off the tree for me.
Elaine is always cheerful and happy to see me. She is a member and serves in her local United Methodist Church. We found that out by accident one day when I stopped by with my Mid-Atlantic United Methodist Foundation shirt on. Her church is just down the road from the farm and is one of our typical picturesque and older rural churches.
Over the years I’ve had conversations that peel back the layers of Elaine’s life like one of the fresh onions she sells. Elaine has seen many troubled times in life and on the farm. Her husband passed suddenly, yet she does her best to keep the farm running for her children’s future. Her father-in-law passed recently. The farm was founded generations ago on his side of the family. She shared the latest rumor the farm is to be acquired under eminent domain in the near future. Her house burned down, the farm stand was hit by a car accident, the crops suffered a drought, she can’t complete in pricing with corporate farms, her mom has Alzheimer’s, and she has a special needs granddaughter.
Yet Elaine is always thankful for what she does have. She makes it clear to me she is blessed, and I know she means it as she looks me in the eye as if she needs to convince me even more…. or perhaps herself. While I shop, she often shares the latest stories of who she helped or the ministry she proudly leads within her church. While she is worried about her church’s future, she brings on the optimism of a farmer and shares “God has a plan Jack, we just need to be patient.” I’m so thankful for Christ servants like Elaine and the gift of our time together.
By now you can see that this Thanksgiving I’m harvesting memories that I’m so thankful for. I’m at the age where there are fewer of the family elders at our Thanksgiving table to share them with, so I’m sharing them with you. I pray you can harvest some memories this Thanksgiving while we gather together and thank God for our blessings. As Christians our blessings remain endless. We just need to remember to harvest them.