This year's Thanksgiving
Nostalgia for the past needn't blind us to the good that is present with us right now.
It was the day before Thanksgiving. I was in the kitchen preparing food for the next day. My thoughts wandered back over past holidays. Savoring the happy memories of family gatherings, soon I was comparing the past to the present.
That particular year my family was planning to be alone. This was fine, I reminded myself. We had been alone on holidays before. Suddenly I realized, however, that my thoughts were dwelling far too much on the past. Almost aloud I said, "But I want this year's Thanksgiving."
Looking for more content like this?
Get uplifting articles and podcasts in the Sentinel's weekly email.
My thought turned toward God; I felt a deep desire for a more spiritual sense of this holiday. I reasoned that there is one divine Parent of all, and that is God. In truth every individual everywhere is spiritual and is part of God's family. And this day could bring only infinite good, since God is perfect Love.
Above the changing scenes of human life stands the changeless reality of man as the offspring of God, fulfilled and complete. The joy and love of companionship we experience humanly speak to us of the eternal embrace of our Father-Mother God.
The deepest love that can be shared in human experience—companionship, belonging, caring, protecting, providing—is spiritual and originates in a source higher than the human person, in the divine Love that is God. No one can be excluded from God's love.
It is natural for people to be close to members of their own families and to feel happiness, strength, and security within the structure of that circle. But when there is no traditional family circle or changes come to human existence, it may seem impossible to build relationships that have family joy. At such times turning to God in prayer opens the way for new experiences of family love. The Psalmist saw God's help as practical, as meeting the human need, for he wrote: "A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation. God setteth the solitary in families."
When we learn to know God as the Parent of all, we begin to discover the real structure of family life and love.
Discordant elements, such as loneliness, separation, stormy relationships, misplaced affections that harm, sickness, or decrepitude, do not belong to God's family. The love and goodness in our human families are from God and are strengthened through spiritual understanding. This understanding comes when we learn that reality is spiritual and that we are not subject to the mortal misconception that we have been born into matter. When we learn to know God as the Parent of all, we begin to discover the real structure of family life and love. This structure has a spiritual basis. We each relate directly to God and, through this unbreakable relationship, to each other.
This is very evident in the life of Christ Jesus. From a human standpoint, Jesus was a lone figure. How did he deal with it? Through his understanding of God, whom he called Father. Who was his family? All of mankind. Where did he find a feeling of belonging and being loved? He put it this way: "Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother."
When we are with family or friends, or even when we are alone, by following in the way of Christ Jesus—turning to God as Father and Mother, giving thanks for His love—we will be guided into relationships built on the purpose and power of divine Love. In this way, the human need is truly satisfied through the parental wisdom of God.
Through years of experience in founding a Church and presenting Christian Science to the world, Mrs. Eddy became very conscious that God is indeed present in each individual's life. "And does not this heavenly Parent know and supply the differing needs of the individual mind even as the Scriptures declare He will?" she asks in her Message to The Mother Church for 1901.
With the tendency toward nostalgia at holiday times, memories may seem so natural and appealing that we have little desire to break the reverie. Or they may be sad and seem so powerful over the present as to tempt us to refuse a new opportunity for spiritual progress. In either case turning to God in prayer opens the way for new experiences of His love.
I had obvious reasons to be grateful on that Thanksgiving Day, and I was. Yet it was not because I was looking back or was taking account of my status in life. My joy and gratitude came from the feeling of changeless, ever-present good, secure in the fatherhood and motherhood of God. I felt in a more powerful way than ever before that the family of man is my own family.
The changes that come to human existence cannot take away the good God gives. Neither the parenthood of God nor the family love that is the heritage of each of His offspring will ever be lost. And through prayer we can prove that God's love is present in our lives for this year's Thanksgiving Day and for every day of the year.