In preparation for Thanksgiving I’ve been asked to be one of the speakers at Mercy Vocation High’s Thanksgiving prayer service. I have very little experience speaking to high schoolers, but nonetheless I said yes. Here is my Thanksgiving offering:
In life we gather for many reasons. We gather together with friends or family, for class, to mourn, and to celebrate, and like Jesus’ followers we gather together to connect to something deeper, a something that is greater. Often times we gather around food like we will soon for Thanksgiving, other times we gather around the food of Eucharist at mass, sometimes it is just a simple meal of necessity as we heard in the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. Whatever the reasons we must eat and we must gather because these acts connect us to others and to the world.
We are what we eat. For me this phrase has so much more meaning than the nutritional slogan implies. The potatoes that went into the bag of chips you ate came from a farm which was worked by many farmers, possibly migrant workers, and now you are connected to them. You are connected to the scientists who figured out how best to grow the food, and to the earth which provided the nutrients, water, and soil to sustain the plants’ life. You are connected to the sun which provides the right climate and energy for photosynthesis. When we see that everything is connected we know that everything and everyone belongs; we all have a place at the table. If we are so connected, so dependent on each other, how can we ever forget this reality that keeps our world whole?
As violence and climate change around the world grows this reminder of my connectedness to everyone and to the planet is something I am grateful for this Thanksgiving. I cannot forget that my life and happiness, my personal wholeness, is connected to the stories and lives I encounter every day, nor can I forget that my existence affects those who come into my life however briefly. My connection to all of the life around me connects me to God who I believe created all of life and who is present in all aspects of life. Even the humble potato chip reminds me of the story of creation when God created the world, smiled, and said “it is good.” As a part of this ongoing story of creation each day of our lives God looks at us too, smiles, and says, “You are good.”