Friday, November 23, 2007

November 23, 2007

Giving Thanks

Yesterday we gathered around our tables here in Bexley Hall and did what many good Americans do, we ate well. The group included friends and students from China by way of Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, and Wisconsin. It was an eclectic group. Hungry, a bit faint and definitely not poor, we were grateful for our blessings. It would have been perfect had our girls been able to join us and had I not clogged the sink with the remnants of turkey. The day reverberated with the sounds of Thanksgivings past and the hope of those to come.

While there are religious and political overtones to this holiday, it has become for many the favorite holiday of the year. It lacks the political fervor of the 4th and the religious fervor of Christmas. It is a time to be thankful, to take stock and to begin to prepare for the New Year in ways that are appropriate.

We paused Thursday and gave thanks; I have no idea what others gave thanks for, but I know that I gave thanks for good health, an extended and loving family and the opportunity to do meaningful work here at MIT.

Twice in recent days we have celebrated lives that have come to an end. One died on the edge of possibilities; another at the end of a long and fruitful career. The challenge we are left with is what difference will our lives make? That opportunity is a great blessing in itself and one we can be thankful for as well.
To paraphrase Mary Oliver:
“I woke early….
Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

But the challenge remains: What difference will we make in our world? Now is a good time to be thankful for the opportunity to answer that question.

Robert M. Randolph
Chaplain to the Institute