The last couple of weeks have been very difficult in our community. Too much loss of people whose lives were cut far too short. And yet, this week we are expected to be thankful. And we will find a way. We will be thankful for the arms that wrap around us as the tears roll down our cheeks. We will be thankful for the unexpected laughter that bursts out inappropriately with a sudden memory of someone we love. We will be thankful for the restless hours of intermittent sleep allowed us through our pain. We will be thankful because we know that tomorrow will come, we will ploddingly place one foot in front of the other, and somehow, some way, we will go on.
I say all of this as if I knew well the individuals who were taken from us, and I really didn’t know them well, or some even at all. But I know the feeling of loss, of hollow emptiness, of the lump in the throat that might never dissipate. And I know that no one should go through the sense of loss alone. Everyone who is hurting should know they are remembered, they are embraced, they are loved.
It might seem a physical impossibility for all of the family and friends of these souls to raise their heads from their pillows Thursday morning and be thankful. But perhaps a tiny hand creeping into their hands will help. Maybe a warm cup of hot chocolate waiting on the kitchen table will help. Perhaps the cleansing of a hot shower as it drowns out the tears will help. Maybe a prayer offered up asking guidance in seeing the purpose of God’s plan will help.
And then slowly, just as progress always moves slowly, some of the pain will ease. The willingness to be grateful, be thankful, for what remains will require a special kind of strength, but it will come. It will come by virtue of the kind of community in which we live, one that is thankful for its history, its roots, one that is grateful for people who help and support each other. We are not perfect, but we believe in relationships, and we say prayers of gratitude for each gesture of support we receive. Yes, on Thursday, we are expected to awaken and be thankful, and I have no doubt we will meet the challenge - together.