Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Things To Be Thankful For

I just finished helping out at a PACEM meal this evening. And the basis of the organization is helping the homeless. I went ahead and started my Thanksgiving vacation with some service, knowing that come this Thursday, I'll be enjoying more turkey and stuffing than I can eat in one sitting.
One of the first things I picked up with the men I was serving was that they were grateful for not only the food I was serving, but the simple act of serving them. And for many, to serve someone else in the smallest of ways can be easier said than done. I don't think one has to look far to look far to find reasons to serve; the beginning of the New Testament is nothing but Jesus serving the people; the Wedding at Cana, Feeding the Five Thousand, healing the blind man etc. But one can also look at the general lifestyle of the Buddha. After gaining awakening, he calls two disciples, similar to James and John, and begins 45 years of teaching and aiding the outcastes in modern day Nepal. Depending on the sect of Islam, zakat is a continuous act of giving. And looking at a Hindu figure like Hanuman, the monkey god who helps Rama find his wife Sita, one sees a story among the vast variety of stories of charity and aid.
(from right: Rama, Hanuman, Sita)
Rama and Sita: Path of FlamesNow, these random stories could be viewed as just separate examples of helping the less fortunate, but they all do point to a venerated figure helping those in need. By doing so for a couple of hours, I realized that those in need are very grateful, and their gratitude is really the goal of this holiday; not so much about what we are thankful for, but about how we can be helpful to those who have nothing and make them thankful for something, even if it is a small necessity like a meal. The time spent with those less fortunate then us is something to be thankful for in itself; because we take too much for granted, we need to see how life is lived in the rawest form: poverty, hunger, and those without homes. They may seem to have less material possessions than we do, but what they are grateful for is worth more just like the poor widow in Luke's gospel who "put in two small copper coins."  "Truly I tell you,”  [Jesus] said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others." Having less material wealth than the rich, the woman was able to gain the benefit of giving. So too are those who have little to nothing this holiday season.  

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