Make your thanks both seen and (heart)felt

Mark my words
Father Mark Goldasich is the pastor of Sacred Heart parish in Tonganoxie. He has been editor of the Leaven since 1989.

by Father Mark Goldasich

Check Thanksgiving card stock.

This item has haunted my to-do list for the past several days. Call me old-fashioned, but even with the convenience of email, I still enjoy sending greeting cards with a handwritten note inside.

In fact, I have a desktop file box stuffed with cards for various occasions. With Thanksgiving looming, that to-do item above was to ensure I had appropriate cards on hand to mail out in time for the holiday.

Why do I still love sending cards via snail mail? Well, the Benedictine monks at The Printery House in Conception, Missouri, highlighted three great reasons in their Christmas catalog:

  1. There is a real thrill when we receive a hand-addressed and signed card in the mailbox. Every time you mail a card, you can guarantee a smile on the recipient’s face.
  2. Writing a hand written message is like pouring a little love into each note that is felt the moment it is received.
  3. Physical cards are usually kept much longer and displayed in various locations in our homes, bringing forth happiness and smiles when we see them.

I couldn’t agree more. There is, however, another reason that’s illustrated in this little story:

A pastor in a country parish heard that one of his parishioners was going around town announcing that he would no longer attend church. Not only did the parishioner insist that he could communicate just as well with God while at home, he also felt that praying out in the fields was better since he didn’t have to listen to babies crying, music he didn’t know or the pastor’s long sermons.

One winter evening, the pastor dropped in on his former parishioner for a friendly little visit. The two men sat before a roaring fireplace making small talk, taking great pains to avoid the issue of church attendance.

After some time, the pastor got up, took the tongs from the rack next to the fireplace and pulled a single coal from the fire. He placed that glowing ember on the hearth and returned to his seat.

The two men watched as the coal quickly ceased burning and turned an ashen gray, while the other coals in the fire continued to burn brightly. The pastor remained silent.

With a rueful smile, the parishioner quietly said, “I’ll be back in church next Sunday.” (Adapted from a story found in Brian Cavanaugh’s “The Sower’s Seeds.”)

In a nutshell, this story reminds me how much I need and rely on other people in every aspect of my life to keep burning brightly. Thanksgiving is a perfect time for me to acknowledge some of those folks with a card and note.

In a typical day, we’re the recipients of the services of so many. For example, think about the people who constructed your home. Remember those unseen persons who make sure you have heat, clean water and electricity. Praise God for the inventor of your coffee maker and those who grew and picked the beans. Call to mind everyone who provides the food and drink you consume.

And don’t forget to be grateful for the person who assembled your car, the people who produce the fuel for your gas tank, and the workers who maintain the roads.

And then there’s the other service providers: the police, firemen, clerks in stores, dentists, doctors, mail carriers, trash collectors, IT experts, military personnel, and the Treasury people who print the money we use. Oh, and don’t forget those who taught you how to read, and the optometrists who maintain your vision as you age and . . . Honestly, I could probably fill this whole issue of The Leaven with all the people that we depend on in life. And there would still not be room to include everyone.

To prepare for Thanksgiving this year, how about selecting a dozen people you’re grateful to and surprise them with a note of thanks. I wish that I could send all of our 52,139 Leaven households an individual handwritten note of thanks for letting us into your homes each week, but I’m kind of pressed for time, not to mention the cost of stamps!

So, this “thanks” here will have to do — unless, of course, you’re one of the 12 on my list. Check that mailbox.

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