After a storm, there are reasons to grieve and reasons to be thankful.
Last month Hurricane Sandy left entire communities devastated, destroyed homes and shorelines, sparked fires in some homes and left many more in the cold for weeks into November. A great many – some of whom were on the edge to begin with – are still suffering.
There are far too many reasons to grieve.
Yet it is often at times like these that neighbors discover one another and people help each other with the basic needs of life. The divisions of ideology, which seemed so important only days before, mean little when placed against the basic needs of survival. People help one another. Sometimes we do it through religious communities, sometimes through charities and sometimes through government assistance – but very often it’s far simpler than that. People see other people struggling, and offer what help they can. Communities come together.
Thanksgiving always brings these kinds of thoughts to my mind, because essentially it is a day about community – families sharing a meal together, volunteers at food banks and soup kitchens making sure that the poorest among us can enjoy a good meal, friends invited to each others’ Thanksgiving tables. There are no gifts and few decorations – just a quiet meal shared with others.
That’s what I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving Day – people who help one another when there is need, and who reach out to neighbors in community. What a better world it would be if we all remembered to be thankful, first and foremost, for each other.
Big Bill Broonzy said that Joe Turner Blues was the oldest blues song he knew, but the story remains as current today as it ever was. It tells of a man whose giving saved many a poor family after the floods came – and of a community who turned toward each other in thanksgiving.