Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving, Community & Asking

There is something very communal about Thanksgiving. Historically as a celebration of harvest and giving thanks to God, it is a celebration done not in a vacuum, but something done together.

I've been asking myself, 'Why turkey?' And, I'm sure there's some historically significant reason we Thanksgiving is "Turkey Day," but I have to think that part of it is simply this...the time and effort required to cook a turkey would be wasted unless there are people to share in the task.

A couple years ago I mentioned here about how in my mind, no film has dealt with the topic of Thanksgiving better than Peter Hedges' film Pieces of April.

A significant portion of the plot of this touching film is that April (Katie Holmes) is trying to redeem a broken relationship with her family by hosting Thanksgiving dinner for her family, but despite all her efforts, a broken over begins to spoil her perfect plans. As a result, April has to illicit the support of her neighbors.

This film so appropriately illustrates the idea of community that is central to the historical and present concept of Thanksgiving.

One of the greatest challenges of our current time is to search for ways to build community in a society that is naturally tending towards isolation and independence.

And so, it seems natural this time of year to discuss the need for community.

Here's the twist. Instead of discussing our great need for giving as an expression of our thanks and our gratitude, I think we also need to think about receiving and asking.

That's right. Asking.

I think we would be foolish to say that we have everything under control. I think we all have needs, I know for me, sometimes it's even a struggle to identify "what do I need" because I feel so blessed by all that I have...hence the thankfulness we often express this time of year.

But I also know that I need community, and community is not formed as part of a one way street, and in order to even have the opportunity to give, sometimes we also have to open ourselves up to receive.

Perhaps this is the year you ask for help, the year you express a need to others. Let people help you. Whether you need to ask a neighbor to help shovel your drive because of arthritis, you need to borrow an egg for your holiday baking, you're not sure if you'll be able to pay the electric bill this season, or you need someone to talk some things over with...maybe this year you need to ask?

Let people into your life. If you have a need, express it.

In the same way you long to serve and help others who need a helping hand, there are quiet people all around you who might be long to hear you simply ask.


billybil said...

Very nice. Thanks!

Lorna said...

thoughtful post. And now I have to go see if I can find Pieces of April.

Luke said...

Love the reference to Pieces of April. Just got around to watching it, and it truly is an unsentimental, yet completely fitting, tribute to the essence of thanksgiving.