It was a crisp New England afternoon – no more leaves on the trees, just cold and brilliantly sunny. I had finished working and was heading home. It was time to decide: Do I join the folks I was renting a room from and go out to a Thanksgiving feast, or do I settle in at the home front – alone?
The thought of being away from home on a holiday was not necessarily new to me, but being alone was. I had a choice to make. Thoughts tumbled in. I had just been serving God at work. At that time I was caring for fellow Christian Scientists as a Christian Science nurse. A Christian Science nurse is one who helps take care of the physical needs of those relying on God for healing, without any medical intervention.
All morning I’d been helping those in need. We had all been to an in-house Thanksgiving church service, so I hadn’t missed my favorite service of the year – the one that allows as much time as needed for folks to express thanks for all the blessings received that year. We served a small Thanksgiving dinner, so I really hadn’t missed the tantalizing smells of a usual Thanksgiving gathering. Then I finished my workday and drove home, alone.
Was I really alone? My family lived about 3,000 miles away, my friends were all sitting around their respective dinner gatherings, and I was here in a big old house, by myself. That could seem pretty lonely for sure. A couple of prayerful insights came to me. Christ Jesus tells us in the Gospel of Matthew, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (9:37, 38). I had witnessed the harvest that day. I had been a laborer. I did expect to see the bounty of goodness at work. It truly is a blessing to serve others in all that we do. How could I ever feel alone with these thoughts warmly surrounding me?
Part of Psalm 100 reads: “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands. Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.... Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name." Whenever I would enter the Christian Science nursing facility where I worked or would go into an individual’s room, I did endeavor to enter with thanksgiving, take the power of the Christ with me, and be an example of God’s love in action. I realized that I indeed had had a full day of giving and was warmly embraced with blessings. It really didn’t matter if I went to a friend’s home for a “real” Thanksgiving dinner. I had been filled up full with sharing, caring, and loving my fellow man.
I rekindled the wood stove, warmed up a couple pieces of leftover pizza, sat in front of the blazing fire, and thought about all I had to be grateful for that year. I was learning so much about myself and God, and was so willing to give of myself. What could be better?
This Thanksgiving I will remember with much gratitude all I learned from that evening that I spent alone. Alone, but not lonely.
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