Flowers in the field
We could be reasonably proud of our possessions and achievements if we credited ourselves completely for what we have. “Look at what I earned! See what I’ve done! See how I’ve provided for my family”
Our forebears in the U.S or Canada might well have been the first to break the bald prairie with a plough in another century. We’re sprung from the same stock as them. Born, ourselves, in humble or disadvantaged circumstances, we found the necessary strength to escape those circumstances and carve out a life for ourselves. We’ve been organized. We’ve saved our pennies.
Thankfulness, though, implies at least some degree of understanding that all we have does not belong to us. It cannot be credited completely to our own account. We were not born in a vacuum. We have what we do by virtue our placement in a community of people. We owe them that recognition. Or, there have been fortuitous accidents in the course of our lives. We were in the right place at the right time. We were born in a particular society and not in another time and place.
Thankfulness may not be the most natural of states.
In our Gospel reading this Sunday Jesus actively enjoins his followers – and us - to think differently about ourselves. We are to put aside crushing anxiety and self reliance – not merely as a new type of spiritual discipline but because not to do so would tell us something about ourselves which is not true.
We are, in fact, not alone in our struggles. A second look at our achievements we show us that – like the birds of the air and the flowers of the fields - we are cared for in ways we are slow to recognize. This dawning truth would leaves us with a debt to our Creator and a debt both to the earth which produces our bread and to the community which surrounds us - were we to take the time to look.