- November 22nd, 2017 -
It probably won’t surprise you to know that Thanksgiving has always been a holiday of mixed blessings for me.
Back in College, the sheer gluttony of the Thanksgiving meal tore me apart as I wrestled with my sense of vocation and, particularly, my exposure to the Catholic Worker movement and others who were living out their faith daily, providing food and shelter to the materially poor.
While at Divinity School I even took a few Thanksgiving’s “off” as I struggled with the concept of being thankful for so much abundance when I knew my new-found friends in Korea, Mexico, and even parts of New Haven would be going hungry that night.
And for seven years in Italy I was conflicted… torn between wanting to share “the best” of the U.S. Holiday Season with my foreign-born daughter and the Refugees through whom I first encountered IPM. We’d travel the countryside to find the right “bird” and those shared meals in the basement of an Episcopal Church in the heart of Rome taught me something very special about what it means to be thankful in a world where so many are left longing.
When I returned to the States full time Thanksgiving was certainly a welcome break from the workweek, but it also provided an opportunity for service and shared sustenance. In fact, helping to prepare a meal for the less fortunate was rewarding to me in a way that a meal replete with political and religious argument among an extended family never quite cut it.
But in the past sixteen+ years with IPM I’ve found a new appreciation for the Holiday just as I have bristled at it’s false retelling of a founding myth. Thanksgiving has become for me, my immediate family, my faith community, and the IPM Family across the USA, an unique, annual opportunity to step back, count our blessings, and redouble our efforts to make a difference in the world.
We, who live in these United States, do have much to be thankful for. Yes, we live in difficult times for sure. Yes, we seem to be increasingly divided by class, ethnicity, gender, race, and religion. The extent of our Partisan divide and the rancor that goes along with can be troubling at times, debilitating at its worst.
But there is also a spirit at work in the communities where I spend most of my time. At IPM, at worship, with my students and friends: I can’t help but feel a sense that something is changing. That all the negativity is making us realize how much there is to be positive about. That all the rancor can help us recall just how good it can feel to find a compromise. That all the hate in the world can’t squelch my deepest belief that hope and love ultimately win.
So as you and those you love head off for this Thanksgiving Holiday I’d ask that you keep IPM in your prayers, that you consider the type of year-end gift you can make to truly make a difference in our work around the world, and that you will take the time to slow down and remind yourself just what brought you into relationship with this IPM Family. Give yourself the gift of knowing—even if for only a moment—that your partnership with us makes all the difference in the world.
Best wishes for a joyful and peace-filled Thanksgiving Holiday!
Joseph F. Cistone
November 22, 2017