Autumn is a season of thanksgiving, a time of harvest after months of wait. If you’re in the greater Tucson/Marana area, you’d certainly love the weather as it starts to cool down from a nearly hellish temperature. Head to Sabino Canyon on your day off or perhaps, simply step outside in your backyard and appreciate Tucson’s beauty in an extravagant display of nature, lovely hues of falling leaves signaling a change of season. On the west side of Tangerine Road, cotton fields are up for harvest.
The first reading tells us the miraculous healing story of Naaman, a pagan army general of the Syrian king and the cured leper, who after being healed of his leprosy, grabbed a piece of earth as a tipping point in his life, went back to Elisha, gave thanks and worshipped God. Similarly, in the Gospel story exclusive only to Luke, although it was kind of heart- breaking that only one out of ten lepers went back to thank Jesus, at least, one remembered and returned, “glorifying God…and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.” Both of them were foreigners (cultural and religious outsider) -a group of people normally shunned/excluded by the mainstream culture either because they look and dress differently, act suspicious as strangers, or speak the language with heavy accents mostly hard to understand, but apparently, they were the first to say thanks.
Saying “Thank You” is the most powerful gesture ever! If someone does you a favor, regardless, be it small or great, your response must be an immediate “thank you” and don’t delay especially, if you want something back again. It cannot wait. It has to be done, in all sincerity, within a 24-hour timeframe. All it takes is a quick phone call or whatever thank you card you have in the stack (aesthetics matters less), send it asap. Otherwise, you’ll end doing an apology which is possibly the most embarrassing thing you’ll have to do. Saying thank you openly without restraint makes the giver feel appreciated-the #1 desire of any human being and shows one’s character on the part of the recipient.
When I was putting the discipleship prayer together as part of the parish stewardship program, I focused on the four aspects of prayer with a huge emphasis on gratitude (spiritual and temporal) breaking it down to the basics: life in general, food provision, clothing, shelter, health, family, parents, fellow parishioners, jobs and of course, the many other things often taken for granted. Did I mention God? Several times, I’ve come across photos in facebook/instragam featuring the manner of eating in which rich and poor differ (you can easily tell) and it pains me whenever I see folks posting gorgeous platters without first saying grace before meals (maybe, I’m jealous because I seldom get invited but that’s beside the point), how do I know? Just a wild guess. There is something in prosperity that somehow takes us out of sync with the original giver, God.
As thanksgiving draws near, take this as a humble invitation (myself included), if we identify and count ourselves with the ungrateful nine, we might as well toe the line, start to recollect our broken pieces, prepare for the inevitable harvest, number both our blessings and curses, if need be, that we may see the inner workings of God in the ordinary. If you have any trouble counting your blessings, you need help to see the bright side of life. I deal with people all the time, many of them troubled and wounded and what I found out is that they feel unappreciated. Perhaps a takeaway, from time, talent and treasure, what are you reaping this harvest season? What are you keeping and/or throwing? Any person or group that you need to be thankful for? Maybe, it’s time. Do yourself a favor. All they need is a simple thank you and that explains everything. Amen.