Thanksgiving and Other Musings

          Recently, I joined Bishop Hahn and most of the other clergy of the Diocese for a Clergy Day at God's Pantry and Food Bank. As I sat there drinking my Starbucks coffee and enjoying a piece of freshly made cinnamon coffee cake, it struck me that I was enjoying both in a building, the sole purpose of which, is to provide food to the poor, to people who do not have enough money to feed themselves and their children the very basics of nutrition, much less a Starbucks coffee or a fresh pastry. I sensed such a disconnect between what I was eating and drinking and where I was sitting. After lunch, we had the opportunity to volunteer as a group in packing food that would later be distributed in the 50 Kentucky counties God's Pantry serves.

          For the past several months, I have had the opportunity to work with someone in my community as she has sought to find a job and a safe place to live. I once was someone who thought anyone could find a job if they really wanted one. I have come to learn that if one does not have a home address, that complicates finding a job. If one does not have the money to ride a bus or owna car, how can one even get to work unless it is just a short distance from one's residence? If one cannot afford a place to live, where does one keep the clothing he or she has? If one doesn't have a job, how can one even pay the rent for a place to live? Of course, most counties and cities have public housing where the cost of one's rent is determined by the amount of one's income. But the waiting lists for such housing are hundreds or, as in Lexington, thousands of people long. One afternoon, when I took this young woman to a job interview, we stopped for lunch at an inexpensive local restaurant. My young friend told me she had never eaten somewhere that she did not have to stand at the counter to order then wait there for her food to be handed to her. The experience left me feeling uncomfortable because something I had considered so mundane had been such a splurge to the young woman.

          Last evening as I drove home, I noticed a house down the road from ours was already  decorated in tiny white lights and wreaths with big red bows at each window. It occurred to me that as Thanksgiving quickly nears, with all the bountiful food and celebration with our families and friends, there will be many, as there are every year, for whom Thanksgiving will be just another day of trying to survive with no place to call home and/or little food to grace their Thanksgiving table.

          Lord, let me never forget to give you thanks for those who have supported me throughout my life: for my parents who carefully raised me and made sure I received a good education; for my family and friends who have unceasingly supported me and helped me become the individual I am; for my country that has kept me safe and given me so much freedom; and for you, God, for your unending love for me and watch care of my days. And Lord, let me never forget my brothers and sisters in my midst who have so little to meet their daily needs. Keep kindled in me the desire to serve and love them even as I serve my family and my friends. Amen.


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