We receive so much at the table. We receive each other. We receive the meal. And if someone is hungry or lonely, they are lifted up when that vulnerability is met with abundance. What we receive at the table matters.
But what little I have learned about life so far has taught me that we're not marked or made by what we receive; we're marked by what we give. What we receive is a sort of raw material; our giving is the thing that fashions something beautiful out of it.
And this week, we give something simple but substantial: we give thanks.
If "thank you" is an obligatory word on our lips before a meal, then we give very little. But if we utter "thank you" because we have surveyed the staggering richness of our lives and found that it begs for gratitude, and if we offer that "thank you" to the One who gives us everything, then we give deeply.
Jean-Louis Chrétien writes*:
"Nothing before God belongs to us as our own, if not our ability to say thank you. What may appear as the most tenuous, the most slender of all possibilities is in truth the highest and most extensive: the praise that responds to the divine giving is the essence of human speech. It is in speech that the gift is received, and that we can give something of our own, in other words ourselves.
Thanksgiving is the power that transforms desire and satisfaction, love and possession, into life, that fulfills everything in the world, given to us by God, into knowledge of God and communion with him.
The world will be lifted, as it was always meant to be lifted, by the priestly love of man. What Christ has done is take our broken priesthood into his and make it strong again… It will be precisely because we loved Jerusalem enough to bear it in our bones that its textures will ascend when we rise; it will be because our eyes have relished the earth that the color of its countries will compel our hearts forever. The bread and the pastry, the cheeses, the wine, and the songs go into the Supper of the Lamb because we do: It is our love that brings the City home."
I don't have much for us this week on the blog, because we have trips to take and family to reconnect with, tables to set and food to prepare. But I hope that some of the work we've done together over the past few weeks has brought us to a place from which we can utter a deep and soul-ish thank you.
Giving thanks for a holy meal.
Giving thanks for vulnerabilities that have been met with abundance.
Giving thanks for the people around our tables.
Giving thanks for a God who would share His image with us.