Walking Our Faith: Thanksgiving and Thoreau
Editor’s note: This column has been updated to correct the time of the Father Dyer community Thanksgiving dinner.
“Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink, I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.” — Henry David Thoreau, “Walden”
After dinner last night, I asked my international student to bring down her copy of “Walden,” which she’s reading in her high school literature class. I opened the book at random and my eyes fell on this sentence. I asked her to begin reading to me because I love classic literature, and I hope to share that love through reading together.
But it also occurred to me that this sentence might only be properly savoured once you have reached the autumn or winter years of life. Its imagery capturing time’s fleeting mercury.
Or I may have been in a nostalgic frame of mind because our knitting group had decamped that afternoon to a large table at the Bistro North restaurant in Dillon.
We were there to celebrate lunch with Pat Hoogheem, a 20-year resident of Breckenridge and 10-year member of the St. John’s prayer shawl knitting group. Over the seven years I’ve been writing this column, I’ve mentioned Pat several times because she has been my closest friend.
We gathered to celebrate Pat and wish her well as she and her husband, Vern, move to Iowa to be closer to their children and grandchildren.
Around the table were a few tears but more laughter. Conversations were flowing back and forth as is possible only when you gather 15 women who’ve known one another for years.
This week, many of us will join family and friends who we might not have seen in a year or two. Likewise, there may be laughter and tears for the time that has been lost, for the people who are no longer with us and for discovering new meaning in our Thanksgiving meal.
I looked around the table during our lunch and felt the palpable gratitude and love that was unspoken but ever-so present. Each of us carried our own burdens in the silence of our hearts that winter afternoon. No life is perfect, and by turns we feel fragile and strong. Perhaps the bittersweet joy of being together to wish our dear friend farewell is knowing that, after the past year, we understand how uncertain the future is and how quickly plans can change.
Amid our private concerns, which we may leave unspoken or whisper furtively to a friend before turning to leave at the end of the meal, we miraculously enlarge our capacity to be fully present, to experience joy in the familiar moment: a good laugh, knowing compassion and a listening ear to our companion at the table.
I wish this epiphany for each of us when we gather for Thanksgiving. As we bow our heads and thank God for the meal we will enjoy, for the friends and family who will share it with us, I hope we allow ourselves to extend the hand of grace to the people sitting on either side of us. I hope we are patient, fully realizing that none of us are living picture-perfect lives but that all of us live with a longing to be loved and a capacity to give love that is greater than we imagine. I hope we will open our hearts to that possibility this year.
And finally this: Through the generous donations of cards and checks from Summit County residents, churches, businesses and Summit Interfaith Council members, this year’s Thanksgiving To-Go was able to distribute a record 575 supermarket cards to Summit County families in need. On top of that, Kroger Corp. responded to a donation request and said it will be contributing $5,000 in grocery cards, according to Terese Kiel, who leads the Thanksgiving To-Go effort.
Free community Thanksgiving dinners
The Rotary Club of Summit County is hosting a free community meal from noon to 3 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 25, at the Silverthorne Pavilion, 400 Blue River Parkway, Silverthorne. No reservations are required. Contact Bee Jeanson at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in volunteering.
Father Dyer United Methodist Church offers a free to-go community dinner from 4-6 p.m. Thursday at 310 Wellington Road, Breckenridge. If you’d like to volunteer to help, sign up at bit.ly/BreckThanksgiving.
There also will be an online Thanksgiving unity service hosted by the Summit Colorado Interfaith Council at 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 21, at DillonChurch.org/live.
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking Our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at email@example.com.
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