I'm not going to be joining my big, beautiful family around the Thanksgiving table this year. I won't take in the endless games of football and glasses of wine and snarky comebacks and too-loud laughter and the rich abundance of culinary grace that I have come to call Thanksgiving. I won't end this day so full of food and drink and family that I want to curl up in a corner and sleep for days and dream it all over again.
And I could be really, really sad about that, because truly, Thanksgiving-- the reality, the history, the whole notion of it-- is one of my most favorite things ever. But I'm not. Because you know what? I won't have any of those festive Thanksgiving moments today, but I am still full. Full. Full. Full. Chock full and over stuffed with blessings and grace and beauty and joy in this life that I live and this life that I love.
I type to the cadence of a familiar piano tune. The tune that plays in the lovely online home of my friend Ann. The tune I open up when I need to remember grace, need to remember slow, need to remember thanks, need to say long and loud and live it on repeat, eucharisteo.
The thanksgiving word, the word that says it all at once, speaks of what it really means to give thanks, to be thankful, to live full. To break bread, to be broken so that you may be shared, to recognize Him in the broken bread and to sit in continuous awe of His presence.
This is the life I get to live every. single. day. Hand in hand with my beloved, surrounded by the exuberant noise of the blessed band of brothers, I go out, Christ in my heart, Christ in our hands. And we kneel in His presence with our brothers and sisters whom we may never have met this side of heaven without this call. And we worship. And we are broken and beautiful and we are full. So, so full. Of His tender mercy and of the life of common grace at the ends of the earth.
And I watch as families living a faraway life in a faraway native culture descend from the mountains, babies strapped tightly to their backs, machetes at their sides, coffee baskets in hand. Their poverty and their timidity and their pride and their tight family core all evident in one glance. And the fullness of it spills over and we call the spilling zeal because it makes me want to run with it, this dripping, leaking grace called eucharisteo. And I want to run out into the dirt roads and grab their hands and shout with joy to them that hope is theirs and love is theirs and mercy is theirs and that there is a forever life that looks so very different from this hard life they live and that even in the emptiest, ugliest moments of sickness and wetness and coldness and hunger, there is a bread that fills, a living water that quenches and that they too can feel always full. Full.
Yesterday I walked in my husband's rubber boots up the sloping mountain road to church and met a group of women there who had come to study English with me. Their shy smiles turned to wide laughing before our time together was through. We entered unsure what to say and left holding hands and patting heads and wishing we didn't have to go just yet. Among them was my sweet old friend, Dona Lilian, a life nearly used up, happily confused about reality and in love with everyone she meets. Broken and beautiful. She interrupted us more times than I can count to tell us that she will bring cookies next time. The bread of the broken. Offered in worn hands. And I am full.
Dona Lilian, she brought me some shoes. Just like she had promised when she called me at 6:15 that morning. Some shoes given to her by someone wanting to bless, to give thanks, to live eucharisteo. They don't fit her, so she passed them to me, just like she passed to me the book from Mount Vernon she had in her home since some time in the 1960s I think and the missal from church from 2007. Long-lived and broken in thought, but whole in love that Dona Lilian is. The shoes, they're, well, old lady shoes. Old old lady shoes. That fit me.
And I will walk to church in them tonight. And this will be my Thanksgiving. Walking in her shoes to break bread with her at the altar of our God. Partaking in the only meal that really fills. Living in the blessed and the broken and the giving and the receiving, in the slow cadence of a beautiful song that sings, "Give thanks and all things rejoice, because He has made you glad, sweet one." And I am full. So, so full the grace leaks straight from eyes in a river of joy and gratitude.
This life is a life of giving up. But it is not a life of want. It is a life of need filled by abundant grace and fed by Love Himself. The banquet has been served for me, and me, I shall have my full.
Happy thanksgiving, friends. Happy, happy, broken and full eucharisteo.