Tag Archives: thanksgiving

listening

Today is the national day of listening.

That’s what StoryCorps, in cooperation with NPR, has decided. They are inviting people to set aside an hour today to interview someone that isn’t often asked for their story. They want to capture as many stories, as many voices, as they can. They want to hear from people who don’t often speak, who live out of the public eye. (Here is the national day of listening information.)

I love the idea, but I started to laugh. I thought, “if everyone is listening, who is going to talk?” And then I realized that this is a day addressed to those of us who always talk. It probably should be a doubly-named day, called both, “national day of shut up and let someone else talk already why don’t you.” and “national day of please, you, in the back, arranging the chairs, would you tell us a story? Please?”

Some of us are gifted at filling silences with words, at finding white space and coloring it in, at having the answer for everyone. Some of us aren’t. Some of us step backward when someone asks, “everyone who wants to speak step forward.”

A delightful thing about blogging is that it provides a relatively safe place for some of those quiet voices to find their space to speak. There aren’t deadlines. There are opportunities to erase, to draft, to wrestle, to test before leaping.

Blogging provides a place for the person in the back, arranging the chairs, to tell a story. And the only way that anyone will know is if someone points them out. But at least there is a story.

I mentioned yesterday that one of the things I was thankful for this year is watching my wife and our children grow in their understanding of how God built them. One piece of that growth over the past couple months has been watching Nancy move into this space.

Some of you have read her posts in my Wednesday morning space at GNMParents. A couple of weeks ago, she talked about the letting go that moms have to do:

A friend and I have been talking recently about letting go of our babies. They’re no longer babies, but they are the youngest of our children. Her’s is a boy, mine a girl. Both 17. Both high school seniors.

Each of us has older children. She has several. All graduated from college. One married and a grandchild on the way. I have one older son. Still living at home while going to college. Single but talking about marriage.

Both of us are saying goodbye. Goodbye to high school plays and musicals and concerts and football games. Goodbye to the things that have kept us young–or aged us greatly. (You can read the rest here, please.)

And, before she started guest writing, she started her own blog, “The Hopeful Gardener.”

Here’s an excerpt from the middle of her Thanksgiving post:

We haven’t been able to attend the Santa lighting for the past 8 years, so it was with excited anticipation that we went tonight. As we stood waiting, I sensed the same feeling of anticipation throughout the crowd. There were smiles and laughter. People greeting each other and talking about how great the weather was. And wishing each other a blessed Thanksgiving.

It was almost as though, for just a couple of hours, the challenges and concerns of daily life were suspended. The war in Iraq was forgotten, the failing economy didn’t matter, the anxiety over family gatherings could wait. And everyone could experience a little bit of hope.

For just a couple of hours. (You can read the whole post here, please.)

Nancy and I write at computers in the same home office, just five feet apart. She is a far more deliberate writer than I am, perhaps because she is a far less encouraged writer than I am. I am the one that gets the encouragement, the celebration, the support for “having the right words.” What few people know is how often her insights, her perspective, her understanding shapes my right words. (Not, for those concerned about pastoral counseling, that I come home after ever conversation and say, “Wow, you wouldn’t believe the stupid thing I just heard.” I don’t think that anyway, and there are things I protect her and you from.) But Nancy has a precision of understanding needs and hurt and people that–more often than she knows or I acknowledge–guides me.

And now, this reflective voice, this voice that is evident when you listen rather than when you pressure, this reflective voice is finding a place to talk.

This is a long post. Thank you for taking the time to listen. But use it as an incentive today, if you are me, to celebrate “national day of shut up and let someone else talk already why don’t you.” by pointing to someone else. And if you are Nancy, please celebrate “”national day of please, you, in the back, arranging the chairs, would you tell us a story? please?”

—————–

My advent ebook is now available as a FREE downloadable pdf, advent2008, (Right click on the link to the left and save the file to your computer). Or leave me a comment and I can email it to you. It’s also a digital book on yudu.

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The next thank you

Maybe you weren’t planning a next thank you. Maybe you aren’t sure who to thank. Maybe you aren’t sure whether you are feeling particularly thankful.

That makes this week pretty challenging, particularly in the United States.

This Thursday is Thanksgiving. The plan is to sit around a table with people you love and thank God for a blessed year and a bountiful meal.

But people will look around tables this year and wonder whether there was enough money for this meal They will talk after dinner about how much they lost in their 401(k) plans. They will talk as they are preparing the meal about the people who actually have 401(k) plans. They will look around the empty apartment or the restaurant and wonder what is wrong with them that there isn’t anyone to eat with, isn’t any reason to gather.

Whew. That was a pretty dark paragraph, wasn’t it? But it’s true. We have this cultural myth of what Thanksgiving looks like (thank you, Norman Rockwell) and we have this cultural tradition of undermining that myth.

So forget the turkey and linen. Radically redefine thanksgiving day. Make it be today.

Who is the next person you are going to say “thank you” to? Who is the next person that will do something that you will benefit from? Who will take minimum wage and still be competent? Who will hear your story of woe and still come back for more? Who will come around when it is still dark and carry away your trash?

I could make a very long list of people who we could thank. I could make an equally long list of things that we could do to be thank-able.

I won’t.

You do it.

—————-

And, by the way, thank you for taking the time on a regular basis to read at least part of what I say. I am grateful more than you know.

—————-

My advent ebook is now available as a downloadable pdf, advent2008, and as a digital book on yudu.

kyrie eleison – still

(This is a reprint of a post from November 21, 2007 to help prepare for Thanksgiving.)

Lord have mercy.

That’s what kyrie eleison means. It’s Latin. I heard it about 30 times last Sunday afternoon. Not because someone was upset (“Lor’ have mercy”) but because I was listening to a children’s choir sing.

That’s the choir in this really bad picture taken with my cell phone. What you should be able to see in this picture are the following: 50 kids, 6th-9th grade; a conductor; a piano; a jembe drum; 3 steel drums; a drum set; a cow bell; a shaker (not the religion, the percussion instrument).

This kyrie, taken from a mass attributed to Saint Francis, was set in Caribbean style by Glenn McClure. It starts with the steel drums, and then involves the whole group you see.

As I was helping set up for the concert, I carried in the stands for the steel drums. They are made of ordinary, hardware-store-variety galvanized pipe. And then I thought about the steel drums themselves, made in Jamaica, shaped by hand with more skill than expense. The same is true of the hand drum. And the cowbell. And the voices. And the words said by many, attributed here to a follower of Christ who abandoned pretty much everything, including dignity.

And as I listened to the voices and percussion blend, I realized (or remembered), that calling out to God for mercy doesn’t have to cost much. It doesn’t take expensive instruments (like the 8 foot Steinway grand piano) as much as it takes willingness. We don’t have to build ornate places to cry out for mercy.

In fact, the cry for mercy comes not when we understand everything but when we can’t; not when we are on top of the world, but when there isn’t anywhere else to go; not when our lives are together, but when they are falling apart.

Thanksgiving is a melancholy time for many people. We know we are supposed to be thankful, but we look in the mirror and can’t imagine the people around us being very thankful for…us. And we know we are supposed to be thankful, but we aren’t sure who to thank. And we know we are supposed to be thankful, but…

And so, may I offer a suggestion for what to say right before you put on the smile and make the list?

“Kyrie eleison.”

related posts

8 ways to be thanked.
waiting
gratitude

Subscribe to this blog for free by clicking here.

Kyrie eleison

Lord have mercy.

That’s what kyrie eleison means. It’s Latin. I heard it about 30 times last Sunday afternoon. Not because someone was upset (“Lor’ have mercy”) but because I was listening to a children’s choir sing.

That’s the choir in this really bad picture taken with my cell phone. What you should be able to see in this picture are the following: 50 kids, 6th-9th grade; a conductor; a piano; a jembe drum; 3 steel drums; a drum set; a cow bell; a shaker (not the religion, the percussion instrument).

This kyrie, taken from a mass attributed to Saint Francis, was set in Caribbean style by Glenn McClure. It starts with the steel drums, and then involves the whole group you see.

As I was helping set up for the concert, I carried in the stands for the steel drums. They are made of ordinary, hardware-store-variety galvanized pipe. And then I thought about the steel drums themselves, made in Jamaica, shaped by hand with more skill than expense. The same is true of the hand drum. And the cowbell. And the voices. And the words said by many, attributed here to a follower of Christ who abandoned pretty much everything, including dignity.

And as I listened to the voices and percussion blend, I realized (or remembered), that calling out to God for mercy doesn’t have to cost much. It doesn’t take expensive instruments (like the 8 foot Steinway grand piano) as much as it takes willingness. We don’t have to build ornate places to cry out for mercy.

In fact, the cry for mercy comes not when we understand everything but when we can’t; not when we are on top of the world, but when there isn’t anywhere else to go; not when our lives are together, but when they are falling apart.

Thanksgiving is a melancholy time for many people. We know we are supposed to be thankful, but we look in the mirror and can’t imagine the people around us being very thankful for…us. And we know we are supposed to be thankful, but we aren’t sure who to thank. And we know we are supposed to be thankful, but…

And so, may I offer a suggestion for what to say right before you put on the smile and make the list?

“Kyrie eleison.”

—–

related posts

8 ways to be thanked. 
waiting
gratitude

Subscribe to this blog for free by clicking here.

I never knew.

Tonight we went to a basketball game. Nancy’s niece was playing (number 10). She goes to Calvin College in Michigan and is on the JV and they had a game with a school here in Fort Wayne. So we went to a basketball game.

We had never seen her play. She led her high school team to great seasons but we had never seen her play. She is amazing. She just lifts the ball from the hands of other players. She cuts off passes, she grabs rebounds, she hits for three. She is the smallest player on her team and has the greatest impact on making plays happen. And we had never seen her play.

We live at a distance from our two families and we are pretty committed on Sundays. We have two kids who have been involved in sports and music and church. We are, like everyone, busy. As a result, however, there are dancers and singers and laughers and thinkers and athletes and people who share our bloodlines that we hardly know.

Next week is Thanksgiving. It’s one of those family holidays which we look forward to with dread and desire. We like to see some of these people, we are afraid of the conversations with others. We are far more comfortable talking in the circles we have formed with neighbors or coworkers or online friends than with these relatives we see only occasionally.

Here’s what happens. Leah is great on the court. It’s a comfortable context. She shines making plays. But at these holidays, she is one of the little kids, sitting at the little table. We pull everyone out of their contexts, the places that they shine, and we put them on chairs by folding tables and we want there to be instant Hallmark card warmth. And then it surprises us that something isn’t right.

Here’s what we need to do. Remember that everyone has a context outside the family. Look for it. Call it out. Find out the cool thing they love and then ask them to talk about it. Study it ahead of time. Make the same effort to talk to family that you do to a job interviewer. Bring your social networking skills to your Aunt Mabel. Make cousin Xerxes a research project.

Don’t do it for your mother. Don’t do it because they are family and that’s how family ought to be.

Do it because they actually are people.

Great game Leah. I’ll try to pay attention more. And Madeline, dance well. What are you this year? And Natalie, we’ll get the magazine order in. Thanks for asking. And we’ll figure out Christmas better this year than the books last time. Collin? Love your smile.

These are the people I never knew. And they are real, amazing people. Who knew?