(A post on Thanksgiving... late, as always.)
I am feeling very, very full.
We ate a lot on Thanksgiving and in the days following.
Baked brie with cranberry-pecan topping
Smoked salmon with mustard sauce and capers
Baby lima beans
Cranberry pudding pie
Jay and Katherine made:
Butternut squash crustini
Turkey (delicious! Good going, Jay.)
My husband cooked:
The other girls made:
Plus, we had disgusting treats like divinity and chocolate cupcakes.
Even goody bags filled with candy.
I am accustomed to Thanksgiving celebrations involving up to 80 people. (My mother comes from a large family.) But this was just for 8 of us, counting James and Jay’s cousin Johnny, who happened to be in L.A. for auditions. (He’s moved to New York.)
All that food for 8 people.
Full isn’t a strong enough word.
Stuffed. To. Overflowing.
But it wasn’t just about the food.
Strolling along the Santa Monica pier last Saturday with my husband and grandson, I recognized a rare, but sweetly familiar, feeling.
It’s the same feeling I had when we brought home a new-born baby.
A feeling of fullness… contentment… wholeness.
Satisfaction. Satiation. Completion. Consummation.
Too often, I carry a feeling of incompletion around like an empty sack on my back.
A sense that something is missing.
Actually, that someone is missing.
Wherever I am, there’s a little hole in my heart for the ones not there.
Our nuclear family was not, is not, perfect. But there is an unusual symbiosis of unique individuals that makes an interesting mix. The mixture creates wholeness. On the surface, two of my daughters appear to be polar opposites in many ways. The third has opted out of either extreme, and expresses herself in a singular manner. My husband and I have different, but equally strong personalities.
And yet, we are better together.
When we are all together, it’s almost magical.
At least electric.
It’s raucous and wild and sweet and cozy all at the same time.
There is boisterous laughter and serious discussion.
Very, very loud.
(My grandson James frequently puts his hand over his ears and yells, “Stop talking!”)
But we can’t help it.
There is a joy in being all together again. Every link in place in the chain of love.
I don’t take these times for granted. As life goes on, they become increasingly rare. Every nuclear family suffers the fissure of the empty nest syndrome. The little chicks must fly off on their own to pursue their destinies… create families of their own. So as time goes on, those original family together-times become more precious.
They almost ended for us forever in April of 2008.
Now it is a very treasured gift when I can gather all my little chicks around me.
There is an exquisite sense of fullness.
Back in the Dark Ages, there used to be a church service on Thanksgiving morning. I loved the old hymns we’d sing. There was a beautiful simplicity in the ancient songs. My all-time favorite is “We Gather Together.” When the kids were young, we’d go to church, then pile in the car to drive to my grandmother’s house an hour away. My aunts (school teachers) would dress all the children up like Pilgrims and Indians, and then they would sing for us.
Can you imagine anything sweeter than a little band of Pilgrims and Indians lisping, “We gadder togadder”?
It made my heart glad.
As I was walking along the Pier last Saturday, thinking about fullness, a thought flashed:
Gathering together to worship is a gorgeous thing that gladdens the heart of God.
God created us for the purpose of relationship… with Him and with each other. He hates estrangement, division, separation. He longs to gather all of His children back into His loving arms. He desires for His “quiver to be full.”
Jesus expressed the cry of His heart:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.” (Matthew 23:37)
God experiences loss when His children wander away from Him. When His family is incomplete. When a child is missing.
It is not His will that even one be lost.
The Father-heart of God aches with longing for His absent children. He wants His family to be complete. He leaves behind the ninety-nine good little sheep to search for one stray lamb.
He misses us when we're gone.
Think about it:
God's heart isn't full without you.
He invites each of us to enter in to the finest Thanksgiving feast of all.
And we will be full at last.
“How long will you wander, my wayward daughter?” (Jeremiah 31:22)
“…in Christ you have been brought to fullness. (Col. 2:10)