In just ten short days, Thanksgiving will be upon us. The endless banquet of food will be displayed before us in all it's glory and my stretchy-pants will be in full effect. I'll be too full for dessert, so I'll pass on the pumpkin pie until five minutes later, when I cover it with so much whip cream that we'll have to break open another tub. Naps will be taken and leftovers will be sent home for days to come.
It's hard to believe though, isn't it, that we are mid-way through November already? Even harder to sit back and wonder at where the year has gone...
While it's no secret to those that know me that Christmas is my most favorite holiday, Thanksgiving evokes the same feelings, just without all of the festive decorations. The concept , regardless, remains the same. We are allowed to take a step back from our overloaded schedules and hopefully, from our incessant need for social media, and look around us to see the beauty and the hope and the love that we've been given.
Yet it should go without saying, however, that we are also surrounded by those who struggle to find the blessings in their lives. It could be your next door neighbor, the person sitting next to you in church, or the elderly person in front of you in line at the grocery store. Men and women, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons ~ those who are without family and friends, or suffering from emotional or physical challenges, or perhaps just recently lost their jobs and are consumed with thoughts of, how will I provide for my loved ones? How will I make it through tomorrow?
We are being flooded on a daily basis with opportunities to be the hands and feet of Jesus to others, yet we are also flooded with a checklist of worldly to-do's that we're determined to check off first. But that's not what God asks of us. He asks us to choose wisely, and very often, that means life must wait.
Throughout this entire season, I'm challenging myself, and you all as well, to give from willing hands. What does that look like, might you ask? It looks a lot like going outside of the box and truly giving from the deepest part of our souls. And it requires our time. Our precious, limited, and very sacred, time.
Take a few moments a day to say a prayer for someone who asked you to do so, but really set aside what you're doing to say the prayer. No rushing through the words or giving up if you're not sure how to begin. Offer their request up to God and ask of Him, thy will be done.
Do you have a friend that has been going through a tough time in her marriage, or at her job, or simply struggles to get through each day? Invite her over to your house, toss your distracting cell phones in a basket and tuck them away for an hour, while you sit and visit over a warm pot of coffee. Listen to her as she forms the words she's desperately needed someone to hear, with no agendas and no plans for solving all of her problems. Just be.
Our God is a forgiving God. Jesus, himself, instructed Peter in the Bible (and therefore, he instructed each of us) that he should forgive his brother not seven times, but seven times seventy times. Over and over and over again. God forgives us at least that many times, therefore, why should we not extend that forgiveness to others? So let me ask you - as this holiday season approaches - who in your life needs your forgiveness? I know it's hard. I know you want to hold onto those battered feelings with all your might. But will this grudge be worth it on the day of judgment? Consider loosening your grip and releasing your love back to the one who has wronged you. Because as little Carolyn in the movie, 'Elf', says, "It won't hurt so much after awhile".
In the Catholic church's liturgical year, the first day of Advent is also considered the New Year, which begins this month on November 27th. So together, my friends, let's promise to give from willing hands and compassionate hearts, so that in the end, we can truly reap the fruits of a beautiful life.