Newsletter: Thanksgiving and the blinking light

thanksgiving

Dear Friends of Second Church,

If your house is anything like ours this week, you’re probably sneaking a peek at your email between a long list of tasks.

“Would you go to the basement and bring up the extra chairs?”
“Did all those coats get put away yet?”
“What is the soap situation in the downstairs bathroom?”
“Before I start the washing machine, did you check all your pockets for crayons?”
“Whoops, I forgot parsnips! Would you go get some?…Please take at least one of the children with you.”

It’s a week when there’s so much to do, and there are so many directions in which we’ll all need to be running, cleaning this and ironing that, going to the grocery store and zooming home to get cooking, only to realize that you need to go straight back because in your haste to start preparing for Thanksgiving, you didn’t get anything for dinner tonight.  On top of that, Liz and I are learning that, as parents with young kids, Thanksgiving is about planning the activities of a four-day weekend as much as it is about preparing a grand feast–wonderful as it is, that’s a whole extra level of “prep” to do.

It can be overwhelming.

And if I’m honest, it’s one of those weeks when that little blinking light on my cell phone can look like a beacon of freedom–an invitation to step back into a world where the tasks and “the heavy-lifting” are so very different, and frankly, so much easier for me. I’m better at remembering the details in that world. I love the challenges of that world. I love the role I’m asked to play in that world.  And love it or not, I’m trying to keep the trains running in that world, and if I just answer a couple of emails now, on Monday morning that will be a whole lot easier to get back into.

Waiting on line all over again at Stop and Shop because I forgot the heavy cream? I don’t love that.

But there’s a temptation lurking there.

Because it’s not only that our work life is so much more interesting than waiting on line, or going up and down the basement stairs.

It’s tempting to answer that blinking light because, when push comes to shove, we think of our work life as the “real” one.

By contrast, the world of rest and family togetherness, the many steps of throwing a big, fancy meal, or piling everyone in the car for an excursion because you can only watch “Frozen” so many times in one day, can all seem like a break from reality, and a vaguely self-indulgent one at that.

And that’s incorrect.

The tradition of Sabbath has always been a way to preserve time and attention for what matters most: to connect with God and reconnect with those we love.

Our challenge is to find fulfillment in the everyday, not despite it. 

In that spirit, the tasks of getting ready for Thanksgiving may be small and many, but learning to practice gratitude is one of the most important jobs we have.

See you in church,

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