Thursday, November 27, 2014

"In Everything, Give Thanks"

Thanksgiving? Already?

Wow, that Fall Cycle really flew. In any case, as the great Turkeyfest dawns here at home, to everybody in the States – and those celebrating abroad – may all the joy, comfort and beauty of the day and its meaning be yours, and here's hoping it flows fully into the weekend. And if you'll indulge this scribe, let me be reflective for just a moment....

God willing, you won't be hearing too much about it over the next few weeks, but next month marks a decade since these pages began their wild spree across this Wide World of Church. To be sure, it doesn't feel like ten years – more like half that – but given the looming milestone, it's been even easier than usual for the memories and experiences of the ride to come flooding back.

Of course, technology's had a role in making it all happen, but it's simply been the tool – from Day One and as long as Whispers runs, this work and the experience of it has been the gift of so many good folks, too numerous to name, who – far more than just being fellow laborers or professional acquaintances – have truly become a part of my life and who've given me the grace of being part of yours. So especially today, I'd simply be remiss to not say how much that means always, and how especially grateful I am to each and every one of you who've been part of the road, for helping me know names and faces and goodness where I'd otherwise only see a mind-numbing jumble of IP addresses... and that just for starters.

Looking across the broad sweep of all this, we've become a pretty staggering crowd. Some of you have become daily presences in my world or close to it... others, we're lucky to get a couple catch-ups a year... and others still, for one reason or another, it's been a while. Still, even on the most chaotic news-day, the greatest comfort and happiness is never in the next thing to run, but the most impactful thing of all: the words and moments shared far from this front-page that remind me of why this is worth doing in the first place, and how worse off I'd be to have gone anyplace else.

It's one of the strange realities of all this to get two questions fairly often: first, "How do you get the stuff you get?" and, often in tandem, "Why do you keep doing this?" And, well, the best explanation I've got for both is a recent morning behind the scenes – first, a longtime pillar of this readership called from a hospital bed out West in shock and asking prayers after waking up the prior day to find her leg amputated below the knee... then, a few minutes later, the e.mail pinged with a note from one of us in Europe, with the joyous news (and pictures) of his new baby.

Not to be cavalier about it, but if that sounds intense, the confluence is typical of more days in this chair than not. Still, every instance of it is a lifetime's gift. We've grieved and celebrated together – laughed often, fought sometimes, usually tended to raise hell on some front... and as it was memorably put a few weeks back, the essence of the whole scene can be found in four words: "This is the Church." All these moments that comprise its journey are never something to observe, but to live – and when you're given the chance to be part of it in all these facets (really, in all these faces), how could you ever wish for anything more?

So with that in mind, again, a million thanks and more to the unbelievable cast of characters whose friendship, witness and example make this work, and its scribe's life, the never-dull, always-blessed experience it is – God reward you real good today and always. In a particular way, though, may we be especially mindful today of those among us who are lonely or suffering, and those who are spending this feast not in comfort, but service to those who'd otherwise be going without.

Even on Thanksgiving, folks, the work continues. For the weekend, though, this guy's Turkey Days won't be in Istanbul with Francis, but close to home with the clan and friends – after a frenzied Fall run, I need it... and with a turbulent December looking to be in the cards, you might too.

Hard as it is to believe, folks, see you in Advent – 'til then, all the graces and warmth of these days to you and yours.