A Very "Still Forming" Thanksgiving

It's fall at Harvard.

I just love fall. 

Tonight at our Thanksgiving Eve service, in response to one of the readings from Deuteronomy about Israel’s journey to the Promised Land, our rector mentioned the portion that said God had humbled them in order to see what was in their hearts (Deut. 8:2). 

It got me thinking about this journey I took into carrying stillness over this past month — how unexpected it was that instead of meditating on the process of actually learning to carry stillness, it ended up being, for me, a process of arguing with God and resisting the process and eventually being humbled into a place of powerlessness and surrender

Powerlessness and surrender aren’t popular words these days, are they? And, well, maybe they never have been. But I have discovered deep joy on the other side of these realities. In this season of my life and in past seasons of my life, letting down and letting go has always surprised me with its partnership with joy. 

My therapist, Debbie, is someone in my life who often reminds me of the paschal mystery. This is the idea that God is always about the work of resurrection but that such resurrection always involves a cycle of death, then the tomb, then the life that bursts forth on the other side. 

Death and the tomb aren’t popular ideas, either. It’s such a hard reality to live through (or should I say die through?) — death. And yet in my experience, I have discovered new life really does burst forth from the grave. One way this happens, at least for me, is through giving me the gift of not having to hold onto all things, of not having to hold it all together, of not having to carry all control. 

Letting go. It lets me breathe. It lets me rest. It buoys me into trust. 

I think God loves when we give that control and trust over to him. So really, it’s a win-win. 

I say this is a very “still forming” Thanksgiving because when I heard Fr. Rob say what he did tonight about Israel and God — how he humbled them in order to see what was in their hearts — I couldn’t help but think about this process of formation that we’re continually about in our lives which is celebrated and marked and examined and invited in this space here. I love formation. I’m thankful for it. I love that it never ends.

God is always about the work of our formation. And a lot of times, that includes humbling us in ways that often hurt but are ultimately about giving us the greater gift of more and more life and more and more freedom. Thanks be to God. Amen.