In a season of thanksgiving:
I am grateful for the cheerful orange flowers that dance higher than my head to greet me every morning on my way to work. They have vined their way, unrestrained, through a neatly trimmed hedge across from my church, and I’m glad the owner lets them run amok.
I am grateful for the person who long ago planted the hawthorn grove next to the back door at the Church of the Brethren General Offices, where some of us eat lunch. This year picnic weather has lasted an unusually long time, but I recognize that weather has not been a friend in other places.
I am grateful for the bone-wearying efforts of Children’s Disaster Services, which in the short space of a few weeks has traveled to tragedies in Texas, Florida, Nevada, and California. And for Brethren Disaster Ministries, which is on the ground in Texas and Puerto Rico.
I am grateful for people who are willing to look behind disasters to see whether they can be minimized or prevented. Ignoring political labels, they examine the human cost of climate change, gun violence, and economic and racial injustice.
I am grateful for those who wade through the rhetoric and media frenzy and try to understand the prayerful gesture of a Christian athlete making a silent protest about racism.
I am grateful for a 300-year church tradition that is clear-eyed about attempts to fuse patriotism and faith, and suspicious about forcing loyalty to flags, pledges, and anthems.
I am grateful for international awards that shine a light on worthy laborers such as Rebecca Dali, winner of a UN Humanitarian Award, and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
I am grateful for church members who are in it for the long haul and spend a lifetime mending relationships rather than severing them—who demonstrate that being a peace church starts at home.
I am grateful for words of scripture that speak for us, when our feeble thoughts and prayers do not seem like enough. “The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:26).
Wendy McFadden is publisher of Brethren Press and Communications for the Church of the Brethren.