I’m preparing to share at church on November 27th. My task is to transition from Thanksgiving to the advent season in a thirty minute window, and I want to do it in a single haiku. In researching the Hebrew words for thanks and gratitude, I rediscovered the psalm of thanksgiving King David sang
as he danced before the ark of the covenant on its return home in 1 Chronicles 16. It’s a neat story. He was so elated by the return of the ark, the physical manifestation of the presence of God on earth, that he dared to dance and sing and instructed priests to play lyres, harps, cymbals and trumpets before the ark in celebration. He was willing to appear foolish in public, to drop the regal facade, to do justice to the depth of his gratitude, to be transparent about his thanks. (See if you can spot the easy application.) Beyond that, I found a lyre or kinnor, the national instrument of the Jewish people, has strings traditionally made from the small intestine of a sheep. The ethic of making full use of an animal to dignify its sacrifice of life resonates for me at Thanksgiving when I think about the dignity granted our personal sacrifices when we allow their repurposing to help others. Nothing in our lives is wasted when we turn it outward, in due time, and use it to comfort or console someone in need. We become part of communal solace and wisdom, and that makes me grateful. Finally, the strings are the perfect hinge or kireji
to enter advent. In the gospel of Luke, Mary treasures the return of the physical manifestation of the presence of God on earth quietly, under heavens ringing with rowdy angels. She’ll come to know deep sacrifice in time, of her own lamb, and his sacrifice will also be dignified by the full use of every drop. Nothing will be wasted in her efforts or in his. I like thinking of the strings of the lyre singing the glory of their own sacrifice. I like equating that thanksgiving to the generosity of a woman willing to carry a burden in order to bless others. I like thinking, under the stars, after the angels, Mary sang. Happy Thanksgiving.