Three days ago I went snowshoeing in the woods of northern Minnesota, where our family has a cabin on an island. We went out through the fresh drifts of snow while the sun was still shining brightly on the flocked trees, but by the time we turned back dusk was drawing on quickly, and the snow was blue in the evening light. As we walked, we could see the yellow light of sunset fading through the trees in front of us, while the moon behind us, almost full, grew brighter and brighter, until it cast shadows almost as sharp as the sun’s. The sky became a dark indigo, the first faint stars already more vibrant than those on a clear Boston night. At last we came to the final hill above our cabin, and the golden rim of sunset on the horizon shining through the black forms of trees was the same color as the golden light spilling from our cabin windows.
Be thankful for this world that God has given us. He has granted us sustenance and shelter to keep our bodies safe, but he has also showered beauties on us without number and without reason.
This Christmas Eve, two grandparents, four aunts, three uncles, six cousins, two parents, three siblings, three dogs, and I crowded into my grandmother’s living room and proceeded to all talk at once. There were bad jokes, good jokes, childhood stories, future plans, miscommunications, contradictions, wishes, dreams, expressions of gratitude, and lots of excited squeals as the presents were opened. I’m sure that no one was able to hear himself think for about four hours, but I am also sure that we could not have been happier. My grandmother often asks me, “Do you know how good you’ve got it?” Looking around the room at all my family, I think I did know how good it was.
Be thankful for the community that God has made for us. He has given us family and friends for help and support in the tasks that are set for us to do, but he has also made it pleasurable—no, necessary—to be with other people. By giving us other people to love, he has given us some small taste of the love that lies at the heart of the Trinity.
Today is the first day of the new year. It will hold new loves and new losses, new joys and new pains, new hope and new grief. Through it all, let us give thanks to our God, who has given us all that we need for life, more than we deserve or ever could have expected. Let us give thanks to our God, who gave us even Himself, that we might be freed from the darkness of sin and death. Let us give thanks for the Resurrection that blazes at the center of history like a sun, and let us give thanks for every dandelion that blooms for one day to make us glad. Let us give thanks for the vast panoply of stars and for a momentary return of hope. Let us give thanks for the strong love of the Church through the ages and for the smile of a stranger. This year, let us make a resolution together to see all that our God has done for us.