It’s a short week, so I’m going to be blogging only a couple times. I’ll try to make them count.
Chapel today. Can you believe I’ve been attending regular chapel since I started preschool. I’ve probably mentioned it. Not that I’m particularly proud of the fact, but I just like to remind people, in case my calloused attitude sometimes comes across. I really don’t mind it so much anymore. It’s actually pretty fun now I get paid for it.
Thanksgiving chapel today. The President of the Focus Institute spoke briefly on the original Pilgrims, who following that first winter when half of them had already died, they stayed and watched the Mayflower leave the shore. There’s a painting by George Boughton called “The Return of the Mayflower” silently depicting the moment and preserving it for history. I went to a private Christian school, so I know the great sacrifices our forefathers made to establish this country. But it was an excellent reminder to me of why we “do” Thanksgiving (besides the gorging, bickering, and football), and also of the power and impact of art, especially art that depicts a greater theme.
Sometimes I feel so coddled it’s pathetic. Comfy, I guess. And the worst part is that I aspire to be such a paragon of self-denial. Pppfffff! The truth is, I’m as “American” as anyone. It’s a real problem too, when you’re trying to write a book. You’ve basically got to throw out the television, Internet, Playstation, and whatever else you’ve been consumer-conditioned on. I’ve been given everything I have. God’s hoping it will wake me up, I’m sure, but I sincerely hope I don’t obscure the fact that while I’m “called” to do something as a writer and editor, I don’t think I’m entitled to it. It’s something I can never live up to, but it gives me purpose and hope and joy, even in my failings. You know what I mean?
But I think that’s kind of the point of Thanksgiving. It implies we have things to give thanks for—and someone to be thankful to. Gratitude requires humility, like just getting down on your face and saying, “God, you can’t know. You can’t know”—and just knowing He does know. Repentance is the same way. I want my art to be full of them both. Thanksgiving requires us to forget about present wants to focus on supplied needs. And it has the added bonus of removing the focus from ourselves—always a blessing for self-conscious, introspective word people. The more you practice the posture of thanksgiving, the better your art will become. I wish I could point you to chapter and verse, but in so many words, it’s there.
With this year’s election pundits in a tizzy to figure out what “bigger reason” there is for how so many Evangelical Christians were voted in, it’s fun to think of all those “values voters” leading by silent example this season to bend a knee to the One the original Pilgrims wouldn’t be persuaded to abandon. This fall, we witnessed the power of a voice in the face of the typical hopelessness, destruction, and despair.
This Thanksgiving, may we reflect the source of that power in our words—and our silence.