Today I give thanks for all the food that perishes, in all its manifold forms – for turkeys, fish and pigs, grain and potatoes, grapes and fresh water – and clementines, of course, that most wondrous of fruit. I thank God for milk cows and laying chickens. I offer my gratitude for clean linen, indoor plumbing, hot water from a tap, warm rooms, electric light, sound roofs, my maturing Subaru with its new tires and yet-to-be-broken-in windshield wipers, and well made, functional shoes.
I am bursting with appreciation for my partner and for the ocean of love we share, for my kids and my grand kids who are my treasure in this world, and for all my friends, who nourish and sustain me. I give thanks as well for my church community, for pastors, imams and chaplains everywhere, for doctors and emergency medical technicians, and for those wondrous social workers, judges and law enforcement officers who are working on their racism, struggling hard to be fair and just.
I am thankful for the red maple that filled my studio window with orange and russet light until its leaves fell off in the last windstorm, and for the Ponderosa pine in the corner of the yard that raises its brushy limbs menorah-like so that they are lit by the new light of morning. In fact, I am grateful for all the tangled, naked trees whose bright limbs lace the sky this morning, and for the geese whose bellies are yellow-orange with sunrise and whose calls haunt the reaches of heaven. I thank God for the sharp smells of cooking emerging from the kitchen, and for my humble stomach, which contracts in anticipation of the feast to come.
Am I missing the point, I wonder? Like one in the crowd surrounding Jesus in today’s Gospel reading, following him about the countryside out of my gratitude for bread and fish, do I lose sight of who the Son of Man really is? John’s Gospel wants us to see that we should be trailing the Holy One across the landscape of our reckoning not because he is the source of earthly abundance but because he is the very Source. Resting in relationship with him, one taps into the wellspring from which all life bubbles forth. Feasting on the bread of this relationship, one is never again hungry.
My stomach growls.
I have brought all my thankfulness for perishable things to that heart within my heart that is the Bread of Life. It is to him that I speak all my deepest gratitude and praise. At other times I speak my longing, or my fear, or my unease. But today, my eyes are brim full of the beauty of this world. And the response I am receiving – that I have been getting off and on all morning long – is a profound and pervasive joy.
Bread of Life, whose signature is in the heart of all created things, thank you for everything. Life is rich and full and wonderful. When risking frightens me, when giving depletes my resources, or when the world’s woes overwhelm me, please reach out a hand and draw me back to you. For only in relationship with you is my hunger assuaged, and only through you does anything make sense. Amen.
Laurie Gudim is a writer and religious iconographer who lives in Fort Collins, CO. You can view some of her work at Everyday Mysteries.
Image: photo by Laurie Gudim