In this Season of Thanksgiving
November 22, 2017
By Sister Renee Yann
A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. (Luke 7:37-38)
Emma, skewered by indecision, stared into her mother ‘s jewelry box. She had always loved those silver earrings, a gift to her mother from her grandmother—an heirloom now, a treasure beyond price. She wanted so to wear them on this special date, but they were “hands off” and she knew it. Still, her mother at work and unaware of her desire, Emma had succumbed to temptation.
The dance had been wonderful, a whirlwind of such delight that Emma had not noticed when her left earring had brushed against her partner’s shoulder, tumbling hopelessly under the dancers’ trampling feet. Only at evening’s end, approaching her front door exhausted and dreamy, had she reached up to unclip the precious gems.
Her mother sat waiting for her in the soft lamplight, having already noticed the earrings missing from her dresser. Awaiting retribution, Emma knelt beside her mother and confessed the further sacrilege of loss. But her mother simply cupped Emma’s tearful face in her hands, whispering, “You are my jewel. Of course I forgive you.” Though accustomed to her mother’s kindness, this act of compassion astonished Emma, filling her with an indescribable, transformative gratitude.
Surely it was a gratitude like this that brought Mary to the feet of Jesus in Luke’s Gospel. It was a similar loving gratitude that Mary poured out from her treasured alabaster jar—every drop carrying her thanks for life, for faith restored, for forgiveness, for hope renewed.
We come to this Thanksgiving season with our own stories, with our own alabaster jars. Perhaps there is a great forgiveness we are thankful for, or just the small kindnesses that allow us to rise each morning with joy and hope. Perhaps there is a memory of compassion, like Emma’s or Mary’s, that we treasure—one that in turn has made us kinder and more honest.
God is our Mother waiting in the lamplight of this Thanksgiving to cup our face with love, to receive our joyful thanks for divine mercies. Like Emma, we may be astonished at the graciousness that has been given to us. Like Mary, we may respond by pouring out our thanks to God in a silent act of prayer.
Indeed, the deepest thanksgiving is wordless. It is the bowing of the spirit before God—who is Presence; who is Grace; who is Lavish Mercy. As we celebrate the season of harvest and thanksgiving, we sit quietly with our loving, generous God. We rejoice in the awareness of our many blessings: the gift of life, the beauty of Creation, the people who have loved us, the ability to choose, to love, to hope, to believe. We pour out to God our humble, grateful hearts. We listen for God’s own heart beating gently in our prayer.