“Thanksgiving for Stubbed Toes and Burned out Bulbs”
God, I’m thankful for stubbing my toe this morning. Now, I know that you didn’t ram my bare toe into that object on the floor, because I know that you are Love Everlasting; never afflicting moments of inevitable pain on this world and all that is in it, but steadfastly carrying each and every one of us through those temporal afflictions. So, I’m grateful for this stubbed toe and its reminder for me today that I am human: finite, vulnerable.
And out of that fearfully and wonderfully made finitude and vulnerability I reach out to you in prayer, knowing that you meet me at my limits, always beginning anew where I end. This is what I hear Jesus saying in John 15: not that I am made in your image to go through this life blindly accepting everything as the result of some indifferent sovereignty (which has nothing to do with Love that is steadfast), but that I am meant to succeed and fail, rise and fall, walk confidently and stub my toe while turning to you always for wisdom, strength, healing, and resilience that can never be complete apart from you. Yes, I am thankful.
I’m thankful for whoever dropped their boxed chicken dinner in the street last night, because when my four-legged love ran free from me to devour what was left of it this morning—serendipitously with no cars passing through—I heard the voice of the Syrophoenician woman who said to Jesus, “Even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs,” as a voice still speaking for those who live in the overlooked shadows of a society so convinced of debunked scarcity that food is piled on tables and only shared between those of like kind and kin. It was frustrating and even a little scary getting my dog away from those scraps and out of harm’s way, but, God of abundant goodness, I was reminded in that fleeting moment that your insistent clamors for justice often frustrate and even frighten. Thank you for turning our attention to those pestering for figurative crumbs of justice to grant them fullness of life, and for literal crumbs of sustenance to fill their bellies with daily bread, because it’s through those necessary interactions that your kin-dom comes on earth as it is in heaven.
I thank you for the person driving in front of me with bumper stickers and flags boasting ideological leanings disguised as political speech that threaten the lives and livelihoods of those I love, and so many more whom I do not know, but whom you call me to love and serve. I thank you for the person driving up there, because I know that behind that wheel is a person; and I know that you do not call me to hate people—ever—but to hate what is evil by fighting against systemic injustice, institutionalized oppression, and all forms of self-absorbed ideologies. My heart breaks at the challenge of mending so much brokenness in these days of stark division, but I’m grateful for you giving me another day to do that good and necessary work, and for you being a God who rejoices when justice shines on all of your children.
I thank you for the lightbulb that burned out the moment I tried to turn it on and write this prayer, because even when we cannot see, you are birthing something new in the life-nurturing darkness. So, I roll my eyes at that burned out bulb, smile, and point heavenward like my grandmother used to do at her kitchen table when she spoke her thanksgivings about all the ways in which you had blessed her in her 92 years of life that saw its share of stubbed toes and empty tables, economic and sociological hardship, and the even the lights being shut off. After all, the Bible that gives witness to your unending goodness tells me to give thanks “in all things.” And with so many things happening all the time, I have a lot of thanksgiving to catch up on today, tomorrow, and every day of this limited life you breathed into me. Yes, Lord, I’m thankful. Amen.