“and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘this is my body…’” (1 Corinthians 11:24)
I met Miss Pearl at St. Mary’s Kerrisdale in Vancouver when I was at seminary. Miss Pearl was then in her mid-nineties, whisper-quiet and bent-over, a life-long member of the parish. She had never married, had no surviving family and very few friends, so the congregation was everything to her. When Miss Pearl died, she left her house to the Church, and of all the things that were inside, none was so surprising as her collection of journals. Unknown to everyone, she had kept a spiritual journal almost every day of her quiet life, in which she revealed a profound faithfulness and an extraordinary walk with God. The volunteers were so moved by what they found in her journals that they decided to make a perpetual calendar using short quotes from her writings. Whenever I read the quote for the day, I imagine what Miss Pearl must have lived through in her long life, I think about what strength and resilience she must have cultivated to remain so faithful and committed to her community, resisting despair and loneliness. Imagining her in this way changes how I read her quotes, which might otherwise sound trite. Today’s quote is “may God help me to make thanksgiving a way of life”, and I wonder what she was living through when she wrote that line, when she might have needed strength of that kind. It’s not so hard to imagine: we all have days when the glass does indeed seem half-empty, when we’re waiting for test results or a job interview or facing a building conflict with a colleague, or just feeling the stress of ordinary life – days when it all feels like too much. I bet it was on one of these days that Miss Pearl wrote this line for today. I hear it as a prayer for stillness and calmness in the midst of busy, chaotic lives; a prayer for time to notice the blessings as they appear.
The Greek word for “giving thanks” is “eucharist”. Each week we come together to give thanks, just as Jesus did for bread and wine blessed, broken and shared. And just like Miss Pearl prayed, Jesus and Paul also prayed that we might live lives of thanksgiving – not just on Sunday morning, but each and every day. These past 6 weeks, the children have been learning more about the Eucharist (the Communion), in the hopes that they might learn to live more fully into a life of giving thanks to God, beginning now. May this blessing come also for you: may you live in greater thanks giving every day of your life. May God give us all a spirit of thanksgiving in all the small and beautiful blessings that may come our way. Amen.