Soon the landing gear will hit the ground at places with names like LaGuardia and O’Hare. Somewhere someone pulls groggily from their driveway while another is suspended 34,000 feet in the air. Thinking on this, I listen to 2000 Miles my first holiday song of the season and realize it is demarcation time, the time between our warm summer when the beautiful things that sit on our Thanksgiving tables grew silently and the time of hopeful expectation that will be marked by the faint fires of four candles.
It is the end of time. The world below grows cold even as the one above is warm. And it is Thanksgiving. Is there a better time for it than no time? (note below)
A Boeing pulls into a gate at the United terminal and a car rounds the arrivals drive and I think of the closing of “The Plague” and the town of Oran. The city sat for a few final moments before the gates burst open allowing the unification of separated people. On each side there was the glee of expectation when suddenly the fondness of what was about to occur took on an intensity as real as the thing itself. That is the time we are in.
Very soon there is the feast. But now there is only the faint steps walking through the long concourse and a car that is pulling up to the terminal. And there is also a table being prepared and a room made ready. It is happening in all those cold weather towns dealing with the elements and airport delays and in the homes where tonight the separated will sleep separated no more.
And it is happening above where rooms are too being made ready and a feast with no end is being prepared. It is the end of time and soon “the hurt will hurt no more” and the only tears shed will be the ones reflected in the open arms had on a 34 degree day in front of a Chicago terminal. Only there in that place there will be no departure in a few days and the feast that will be cleared tonight from the tables here will never be cleared there.
Today we clasp hands and say thank you. Today most will have more than enough food to eat and we will remember our warm summer, the good earth, our nation and the time spent together. For these provisions we offer our prayers of gratitude awaiting the day when such gratitude may be face to face.
But the kingdom has not yet come. It is being made ready and we long and pray for the day, but today there are still some who will not see a loved one waiting anxiously on the land side or family gathered around a table. We have many brothers and sisters in the likes of Kabul and Bagram and a few still call Wacker Drive home. And then there are some who have only the memories of the deeply loved.
Knowing this, Thanksgiving becomes demarcation day….the gratitude of blessing and the hope for the kingdom and things not yet seen. After the dishes are cleared away and the laughter of reunion dies down, the world returns to the cold and the end of time becomes time anew. We visit the airport again, dropping off the person we woke up so early to receive just days before. The news returns to stories of disease and brutality. We walk past signs that say “Peace on Earth” and think what a joke.
What are we to do? Today we can be grateful to the One who gave us our homeland and every ounce of joy we have. And tomorrow we can go out into the world. The doors of the shops will be opened and we will no longer be separated from those shiny and beautiful things that give us much in the way of happiness but little in the way of joy. We could wait anxiously at those doors. Or….we could remember our gratitude of the day before and come to the desire that all people may always have cause for this. We can, having come through the end of time and fulfillment, enter the time of expectation when we long for the day all will dine at the feast with no end. Until that day we can work to mirror the kingdom on earth knowing that “though we are small, He can work great things in us.”
A Blessed Thanksgiving to all.
- No time: lest there be any confusion in the matter….all times are good to offer thanksgiving. It just happens Thanksgiving often occurs during when the liturgical celebrates the end of time and the coming of the Kingdom which transcends time. (The liturgical calendar can be found here.)