By Dr. Elizabeth Conde-Frazier
I thank my God for you every time I think of you; and every time I pray for you all, I pray with joy because of the way in which you have helped me in the work of the gospel from the very first day until now. (Philippians 1:3-4)
Thankful. When we think of giving thanks our minds go to the things that went as we wished, prayers answered according to the order we put in, the things that brought us pleasure and joy. What else can there be? I am thankful for the things that are related to my journey of life. The times that prayers were not answered as hoped for but when God accompanied me through the rough terrain. The ways in which that rough terrain helped me to grow as a person. I thank God for things that in retrospect turned out much better in the long run. I was saved some heartache when that path was closed to me.
But what do we do with things that were really wrong, that have no good explanation for them, that even caused trauma and left an indelible mark on our lives with no good reason? A good friend wrote a book recently (Cradled in the Arms of Compassion) on such matters where he speaks of his own trauma with sexual abuse and the harrowing journey of his life because of this. In it he sees the trauma of Jesus’ crucifixion and the compassion he receives from those how love him through the small kindnesses that they pour upon his life in those moments.
The image of the pieta, (it means pity or compassion) a sculpture commissioned by a French Cardinal living in Rome, representing Mary sorrowfully contemplating the dead body of her son which she holds on her lap, becomes a special symbol of God with him for my friend. He is thankful to God for all those kind persons along the long journey of healing. On such a journey we cannot always say thank you because we are too hurt, too angry, fighting just to survive.
I urge us this thanksgiving to become persons of kindness that others can later look back and say thank you to God for your kindness which represents the compassion and acompañamiento of God on the not yet parts of our lives on the journey of healing.