By Fr. Francis Pizzarelli
It’s hard to believe that it’s almost Thanksgiving. The leaves are changing colors and will soon fall to the ground once again covering the earth. As we prepare for this most important American celebration, we have so much to be thankful for.
This brutal pandemic seems to be coming to an end; leaving us with so much death, so much sickness and suffering, but also a powerful reminder that life is fragile and sacred and that we as a people and as a nation are resilient.
Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful, to give thanks for our many blessings. It should not be a noun but an action word. In other words, it’s not enough to just say we’re grateful, we need to show our gratitude by our actions.
If we ever needed to come together as a people, it is now. Thanksgiving is a great opportunity for us to build bridges and not walls; for creating a new narrative that is focused on healing and not hatred. It is a time for celebrating our strengths, not harping on our weaknesses.
It is a time to end the vulgar discourse that is infecting and polarizing our political landscape. It is reprehensible when an elected member of Congress stands in that sacred chamber without a mask that metaphorically gives the finger to the elected President of the United States! What has happened to our elected leadership? Have they lost their moral compass and their commitment to lead by example? What are we teaching our children about respect for the dignity of all people, no matter what their political affiliation?
Thanksgiving can be a time for new beginnings. Let us leave all the hatred and venom behind and focus on all the goodness that makes America great today! Professional football player Tom Brady, after a big win, took the time to shake hands with a little nine-year-old boy who is a cancer survivor. What about local students from a youth fellowship who bake cookies on a regular basis and bring them to a local homeless shelter, or the recovering heroin addict who became a social worker and wrote a book about hope and transformation?
Every day there are big and small miracles that are transforming our world. We need to slow down enough in the midst of all of this chaos and take off the blinders.
This Thanksgiving, as you gather with your family and loved ones to give thanks, set an extra plate at your table for that person in our community who might not have a table to sit at. Be grateful this Thanksgiving and remember “it’s not the breaths you take, it’s how you breathe!” (Augie Nieto).
Happy Thanksgiving. I am forever grateful that I live and work among you!
Father Francis Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.