St. Ignatius urged his followers to converse with Jesus in the same way that one would speak with a very dear friend. In his book, Praying the Truth, William Barry, SJ, writes:
Prayer, as conscious relationship, is the royal road to finding God in all things and to a deeper friendship with God. We grow in friendship with another human being by becoming more and more transparent with each other…Friendship develops through mutual honesty, through truth-telling. (2, 6)
I have found that truth-telling before God has been key to my prayer life—and conversely, to my lack of a prayer life when I’m skirting the truth in prayer. So, while gratitude is front and center in my mind as we celebrate Thanksgiving, I am noticing all kinds of other emotions present and worth talking with God about as well.
And so, this Thanksgiving, I pray:
God of all creation, Creator of the universe, I thank you for breathing life into me, my loved ones, my brothers and sisters throughout the world, and all that inhabits our earth. I thank you for the winds that rustle the leaves, the waves that caress the shores, the sun that brings warmth and growth. I am grateful for the sustenance you provide for my body, mind, and spirit, for the fresh waters that rain down, the earth that nurtures, for those that harvest, for teachers and preachers, and those who create technology that keeps us connected. I am grateful for all the gifts with which you fill my days: the laughter of my family, the greetings of friends and neighbors, the warmth of hearth and home. Yet, my heart is heavy too, Lord. I miss loved ones around my table. My heart hurts for others missing loved ones too and for those who are alone, for those who are ill, those who have lost jobs, those suffering injustice, those rebuilding from storms, those who have no home in which to place a table. I am weary too. These days have been long. I am tired of fear and of strife. I miss hugs of greeting and farewell and seeing lovely, unobscured smiles. I miss community. I miss closeness. Yet, Lord, I know that I am not alone in these heartaches. You dwell with us in our pain and brokenness. You are here with us faithfully, day in and day out, breath in and breath out, you are with us. You are still loving us into existence every moment of every day. You remind me of this in the strangers delivering meals with a smile, caring for others at risk to their own lives, and developing ways to protect millions. You remind me too in the giggle of the child outside my window, the cry of the baby awaiting his mother, the chatting of friends walking by, the dogs barking to each other, the song of the symphony on the hillside, and the brass quintet in the street, the smell of coffee in the morning, savory meals on the grill, caramel crisp leaves scuttling ’long the ground, and smoky backyard fires, warm and aglow. You are with us all our days all our nights and all the moments in between. You are with us. Loving us. And, for this, I thank you, my Lord and my God.