The Practice of Giving Thanks
By: John Blumenstein, PhD, Head of School
Thanksgiving is indeed one of my favorite holidays, and I have vivid childhood memories of joyful family gatherings, made all the more memorable by a rich feast of storytelling accompanied by a rich feast of delicious turkey dressing, sweet potato casseroles, pecan pies, etc.
Looking back, I am reminded of the purpose of this great national holiday as an annual reminder of the importance of gratitude and the practice of giving thanks. G. K. Chesterton records his own view of how to give thanks as a way of life that is not restricted to saying grace before a meal:
You say grace before meals
But I say grace before the play and the opera,
And grace before the concert and pantomime,
And grace before I open a book,
And grace before sketching, painting,
Swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing;
And grace before I dip the pen in ink.
According to one of his biographers, for Chesterton, “Each day seemed a special gift; something that might not have been.”* What a way to live, taking nothing for granted, in whatever form or size.
Cambridge often uses the metaphor of a feast to describe learning as placing before students the very best in literature, art, music, history, science, and mathematics, inviting them to partake in the feast with thanksgiving and not to take for granted the process of learning itself and the richness of the world about which they are learning.
Following up on Scott Buresh’s message during Generations Day Chapel last Friday, please allow me to invite you to ensure that your children’s rich learning feast continues into the Thanksgiving holidays. Feed them with stories of the generations as you partake of delicious food together and as you enjoy one another’s company. Telling the stories of your generations provides rich opportunities to shape your children’s sense of identity, giving them reason to be thankful for their blessings, which, in turn, lays a foundation for appreciating and valuing the stories of others.
Ultimately all of our stories find common ground in Christ, whose grace and love remind us that all of our stories are mysteriously intertwined in the ever unfolding STORY of all stories that spans from the wholeness of creation, to the disruption in that wholeness when Adam and Eve lost their way, to the first major step in the restoration of that wholeness in the redemptive work of Christ, and, finally, to the ultimate restoration of wholeness in the reign of Christ’s love, the ultimate overcoming of evil by good.
May you and your families be blessed during this Thanksgiving season with an abundantly rich sense of gratitude for God’s numerous blessings in your own families and in all the families at Cambridge, never underestimating the precious value of each and every family in God’s eyes.
*Gilbert Keith Chesterton, by Maisie Ward, Sheed & Ward, 1943, pp. 61-62.