A Thanksgiving Day Lament
Thanksgiving has become a holiday where I wrestle with my thoughts. On the one hand, I see the great value of being able to be thankful, to recognize and be aware of the many blessings in my life when all too often I choose to focus on the negatives, and to stop and have a quiet moment of thoughtfulness and thankfulness in a life that is all too busy. On the other hand, so much of what myself and others choose to be thankful for are the things that I dedicate my work and self to challenging, disrupting and, ultimately, hopefully dismantling – things that I believe we should be discontent with. Then there’s the whole Columbus, pilgrims, and Indigenous thing going on and I won’t even go there…
At a recent retreat I was at, they talked through the Psalms and about the value of laments and how, even in these laments, they often express an element of trust and thanks for divine power.
So, here is a Thanksgiving Day lament, a prayer for myself and for the people of her church…
O Creator & Sustainer, God of Justice and of Vengeance, God of Mercy and of Humility. Hear our lament.
We come to this place, accepting others’ pain as blessing and knowing that these offerings of blood season our overflowing bowls.
Each day we demand burnt offerings lain upon the altar, the immolations of others to power the machines of our consumption.
In these times, we set up our golden statues of suffering to glisten in the sun and blind us from the true suffering of ourselves and those close to us and far away.
We set up golden statues to the many Saviors, and shout our praises to those who collect their gold on the pain and trauma of others, deafening us to the words of those close to us who speak wisdom from their pain.
We set up our golden statues to ourselves, creating fields of statues that stare at each other. We insulate ourselves from the honesty of those who can see what we really are.
How long, O Creator, will you stand by as those who claim your name turn it to sickening clouds of noxious odors that choke each lung until all that is left is to spit it out, to wretch and heave it out?
On days of thanks giving, we consume more.
On days of celebration, we hurt more.
On days of remembrance, we ignore more.
How long, O Avenger, will you speak and be ignored, how long will you call out to the people only to be drowned out by the loudness of our belligerence, by the cacophony of our indulgence, and by the din of our insistence on doing things our way?
You have told us that you speak through the ones in prison, the ones lying on their deathbeds, and the ones with not enough to eat or drink. How long will they be ignored, cast into solitary confinement for speaking out, left to rot for their death rattles of truth, and withered into the ground for asking for justice?
I don’t know if I should pray for your endless mercy to pour down on us like a tender rain or for your wrath to pour like endless thunder, to bring humility and brokenness among stubborn and entrenched people.
Whichever spurs me to thankfulness, whichever drives me to action, whichever demands sacrifice of me – that is what I pray for.
On days of thanks giving, I long to bring something to be truly thankful for.
On days of celebration, I long for something of substance to celebrate.
On days of remembrance, I long for memories of the past to transform the actions of today.
Bring down your thunder and rage against the people.
Turn loose your rivers of rage, like you did in the temple, flinging high the tables that we cling to like leeches.
Turn loose your rivers of justice, like you did in the flood, and wipe clean the slate of everything that is unfit for your peace.
Turn loose your rivers of power, like you did on the cross, and bring ruin to our temples, tearing our sacred curtains beyond repair.
And when there is nothing left, when we have cried our last tears of pity and rage, when we have been brought to our knees and struggle for our last breaths, remind us what we have to be thankful of and what we have to hope for.
Remind us that you are a bringer of peace.
Remind us that you are a bringer of joy.
Remind us that you are a bringer of new beginnings.
Remind us that you are a bringer of love.
Remind us in the leaves that fall around us in this season.
Remind us in the warmth of those who we care for.
Remind us in the power of the wind and rain.
Remind us as we walk the streets and paths of our day.
Let us be thankful because of the possibility of redemption, through mercy or rage or anything in between.
O Sustainer of all that is good, let me rest in thanks when there is no resolution, no black and white to draw my line through, no pitch perfect ending. Let me rest in your blessed unrest, knowing the lines are not mine to draw.
O Sustainer of all that is good, let me rest in thanks when there seems to be an endless path of struggle, knowing that to test and approve every good thing takes a lifetime of journeying, a lifetime of learning and a lifetime of patience. Grant me all of those things needed for the task.
O Sustainer of all that is good, let me not rest in thanks but move in thanks, live in thanks, and think in thanks. Let me feet never be idle on this journey to thankfulness.