As I began my now familiar drive south on Highway 23 this morning, I became keenly aware that somehow, almost overnight, the trees have changed from vivid green to a panacea of autumn hues to now the beginnings of the startling bare branches signaling the start of winter. Where has the time gone? How have I failed to notice the necessarily daily reality of the changes of the foliage right before my very eyes?
Tomorrow I will wait at the Toledo bus station in anticipation of our daughter’s arrival for the holiday weekend, and I suspect I will be startled to see not the little girl I have forever lodged in my long-term memory, but a beautiful, capable and articulate young woman step off the bus and into my arms. How is it that the changes and growth in her life have somehow moved faster than I have been able to track as a parent?
Change is a curious thing- it is both necessary and yet often also disorienting and sometimes frightening. Change is one of the most basic aspects of the human condition and yet it can often confound or confuse us and our need for stability and a sense of continuity.
So as we approach Thanksgiving this week, I have found myself wondering whether we dare be thankful, not just for our blessings, but for the reality, the gift and the power of change in our lives and in the world around us?
Where are the places in our lives that need to change and what are we resisting?
Who are the people in our lives that might need us to change in order to reconnect or heal?
What are the situations if changed could spark new life in our hearts or in the world?
I am reminded of Mary Oliver’s poem, Messenger, in which she simply offers perhaps the best “mission statement” any of us could ever ascribe to: “My work is loving the world.”
And it is in that work my friends that we, at our very core will necessarily be changed again and again and again.
May we find ways to notice how change is a gift in our lives, and part of the promise we receive as followers of Christ. We can give thanks for this gift if we trust what is old can be made new each day, and what is dead can be born again. We can give thanks for the gift of learning to pay attention, and trust, and let go as we travel and live and learn and love with open hands and open hearts.
We are a community that is changing; we are moving and growing and spreading some new wings. Some of that growth is scary and all of it is holy. I give thanks this day for each of you and for the gift of Trinity in our lives.
As we sit at our various tables with family and friends tomorrow, may each of us remember to say a prayer of thanksgiving for who and how we are changing every day, growing in faith, courage hope and love. We live in a world that needs us to change for good and for God.
May you never forget that you are loved.