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Sometimes Thanksgiving is bittersweet

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Sometimes Thanksgiving is bittersweet

“Everything is a grace.” St Therese of the Child Jesus

“In all things, God works everything out for the good.” St Paul

I can't keep myself from thinking over the past twelve months since Thanksgiving last. There is much to be grateful for. Too much it seems. 

But there is also the cousin that so many family and friends rallied around as she checked off her bucket list in the last months of her life. A brave, strong and dear woman who held the fragility of her life with grace. 

And there was her sister who just months after, or was it weeks, was diagnosed with the same illness...and won.

An uncertain sigh whispers down the halls of my heart at memories of women taken advantage of, whole generations of the world's future crying out in hunger. "Is this all grace?" 

We give thanks, but it is a thanks that is bittersweet, a fragile song of sometimes uncertain praise. 

I know a friend who with peace and grace is preparing gradually for the moment when he shall breathe his last. I walk with sisters who suffer indescribable pain...the heart's pain, the body's pain. I stand up to Paul, "How can God work out anything good in this?" 

On this Thanksgiving weekend, the God of covenants and faithful full-hearted promises takes me by the hand. I know your heart and hear your questions. What you wonder about is too big for you. Small of mind and even simpler of heart, you could never understand the vastness of My Presence that holds together all: in each breath, in its coming and going, its living and dying, its praising and stumbling and rising again. You are too shortsighted to see that everything in its unmistakable truth holds its place in the weave of My plan. No stitch is lost, no color out of place, every row perfectly counted and balanced and lined-up with My dream. 

"But..." His hand covers my heart's protest. This, my child, is certainly a year of thanksgiving. Each person, all alive in Me forever, radiant in the reflection of my Face, is cause for praise. And the praise that comes from the humble recognition that it is beyond you to understand what I am doing, the praise that humbly acknowledges a Wisdom beyond your own mind, is the praise most truly thankful and true.

In everything is grace. Before anything happens, before we are torn apart by sorrow, the One who loves us has first fought for us, done battle to save us, to rescue and protect and remake us, and stand forever before His Father at our side. 

I sorrow at your suffering, it was never part of My plan. But what is My plan, the plan you can trust, is my absolute promise of faithful love for you, the guarantee that you will never be forgotten or left aside, that I am inside you, radiating from your heart's Temple, present and true to you. My plan is, and has always been, to give you My life. 

I take to heart the words of Jesus: "I call you my friends." Yes, I belong to him as friend, as his very own body "belongs" to him. Chosen. Cherished. 

Why? Why is everything grace? Why everything a cause of thanksgiving?

I fearlessly proclaim it. Everything is grace because in everything is God's fidelity manifested yet again to me, to us, to everything. I am part of a great orchestra, a small part with just a few measures of music to play, but He has shown me that as we each play our few measures...whether they be in major key or a haunting minor...we experience the delight and taste the torrent of melody that is the song of the divine Heart singing through every cell of creation. 

by Sr. Kathryn Hermes, FSP

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