by Karla Koon
Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. James 1:17
We all have our unique ways of living into or experiencing Thanksgiving. For some, it is a time to gather with family and friends. For others, it is the beginning of a bustling shopping season leading up to Christmas. Some simply enjoy having a long weekend, while for others it is just another day of work. Though not universal, gathering and eating seem to be at the heart of this holiday.
Especially this year, gathering seems to be on the hearts, minds, and lips of so many. Last year’s pause on so many holiday gatherings have us clamoring to reconnect and have a taste, once again, of how things “used to be.” I long for the familiar and a small sense of normalcy. I also recognize that I have been changed by this past year and a half. I am no longer the same person. Perhaps, we all have changed.
There will be joy and happiness as new members are folded into our circle of friends and family. There will be sadness and heartache as we remember those whose chairs will be empty for the first time this year. There may be uncertainty and trepidation as we navigate our way around in-person, virtual and “hybrid” gatherings. It is hard to imagine anything feeling exactly the way it “used to be.” So much has changed and through it all, God is constant.
As we enter this time of thanksgiving, may we find moments of stillness and quiet gratitude. May we find a way to share God’s love with all who we encounter as we maneuver through blending hints of what was with the newness of what is before us. May we lift our hearts and voices in gratitude for those who have walked beside us on this winding and lingering journey. May we show grace and kindness to a stranger. In all these spaces and places, regardless of how we gather, God is with us, abundantly and perfectly loving us all.
Karla Koon is a Worship Leader and Eucharistic Minister at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, in the Greenlake neighborhood of Seattle. When not serving at church or working as the Director of HR Operations and Administration for Catholic Community Services of Western Washington (Catholic Charities), you can find Karla, reading, quilting, golfing, hiking, kayaking, and (safely) gathering with friends and family.