Full Stomachs and Lean Souls

Welcome to Real Life. Yesterday we celebrated Thanksgiving. Forty-six million turkeys were consumed in feasts across our land. We are a nation blessed with abundance. We have come a long way in four hundred years...
In November of 1620 the Mayflower landed in Provincetown Harbor. The Pilgrims faced their first winter with little food and only the ship for shelter. By spring, half (of 150) had died of starvation and disease. However by autumn, they had harvested their first crops. Governor John Carver called for a celebration:
The Pilgrims invited Massasoit, who came with 90 of his people and whose hunters contributed five deer to the celebration. The Pilgrims gathered corn, wild turkey, ducks and other fowl, fish, and venison. The first Thanksgiving lasted about a week, with three days straight of feasting with the Wampanoag. The time was filled with prayers, dances, shooting matches, wrestling, and other games.[1]
Now that’s a party! They had known hunger. They had seen death. They were celebrating life. The Pilgrims appreciated a full table and a full stomach. The scene is hard for me to imagine. I've never faced starvation. It's rare in modern-day America. Today we battle obesity.

My Grandmother

However, my personal history is not far removed from starvation. My father was born in Slovakia. During a desperate time when food was scarce, his mother refused to eat so her children would have enough food. She died of starvation. At the close of WWII, my father left Slovakia to escape the incoming communist regime. He wandered war-torn Europe homeless and hungry. In Germany, he begged for food at farmhouses. In France, he stood in line for soup at U.S. sponsored refugee camps. After waiting eight years on an immigration list, he finally made it to America. Now 92, my dad consistently cleans his plate. He still appreciates a good meal. 

Unlike my father or those early pilgrims, I’ve never known hunger. I’ve always lived with plenty. Am I grateful? Some days I am. But some days I feel poor because I drive an older car. Instead of appreciating the abundance I enjoy, like a spoiled child I want more. I crave the latest model, the newest technology, and the hottest brand. It’s the way of our culture. It drives our economy. But, it leads to emptiness. Four hundred years later in the land of plenty, our stomachs are full and our souls are lean.

Forgive me, Lord. Open my eyes to see and appreciate the abundance I enjoy. Give me a generous heart that shares with those who are truly poor. Thank you, Lord, for providing all I need: food, shelter, clothing – but also love, faith, forgiveness, freedom, family, friends, …

Something to think about:
[1]Article “The Story of the Pilgrims IV: The First Year & the First Thanksgiving” from Mills, McLaughlin, Radloff, & Ruth Family Pages website at http://www.millsgen.com/gen/hist/pilstor4.htm.


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