by Lori Mitchell McMahon
With the Thanksgiving holiday upon us, and Advent fast approaching, tonight I am enjoying some quiet and solitude before the wonderful-but-frenetic days ahead. Thoughts this evening turn to the Swedish statesman / UN General- Secretary/ Nobel Peace Prize winner Dag Hammarskjöld (1905 – 1961). His book Markings is a remarkable compilation of journal entries, beginning when Hammarskjold was 20 years old and continuing until just before his death in 1961. His typewritten manuscript, discovered posthumously, included Dag’s self-described explanation of his writing as “a sort of White Book concerning my negotiations with myself – and with God.”
We can appreciate in Hammarskjold’s life the confluence of many themes characteristic of Epiphany’s teaching: his keeping of a journal, his ongoing appraisal of spirituality as it informed every facet of his life; his candor in confronting fear, uncertainty, and loneliness; the cherished copy of Thomas a-Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ that he kept on the bedside table of his New York apartment (“formative reading” for a lifetime). And in the true spirit of Thanksgiving, Hammarskjold shares one particular sentence that seems to capture the essence of the “appreciative abandonment option” that Fr. Adrian so beautifully elucidates in his work:
For all that has been — Thank you. For all that is to come – Yes.
(Markings: published 1963).
As we come to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends, may we deepen our commitment to thanksgiving and gratitude indeed “for all that has been”… including our challenges, our many “from – through – tos”; our cave trials, our suffering. We give thanks not only for this blessed day but for all in our life that has unfolded, in
ways both ambiguous and purposeful. And from the unique vantage point of “today”; Thanksgiving Day, may we bow deeply to the ‘Yes’ that is asked of us, in what-ever circumstance or situation we find ourselves… “for all that is to come.” May the grace of “appreciative abandonment” enrich, enliven, and deepen the Thanksgiving that unfolds in our hearts and in our lives.