Thoughts for Thanksgiving

On Thanksgiving, I feel it’s only fitting to quote a little Capon. He is, after all, the writer who has inspired me most to be thankful for all of the little things along with the big things. I’ve also found his writing personally challenging and convicting, and by the time I’m done reading even just 2-3 paragraphs of his, I often find myself more aware than ever of the depth of God’s goodness and the depth of my own ingratitude for all the loving detail and care he continually pours into our world–detail we often miss or ignore.

This is from Supper of the Lamb, a little Thanksgiving consideration:

For all its greatness (trust me—I am the last man on earth to sell it short), the created order cries out for further greatness still. The most splendid dinner, the most exquisite food, the most gratifying company, arouse more appetites than they satisfy. They do not slake man’s thirst for being; they whet it beyond all bounds. Dogs eat to give their bodies rest; man dines and sets his heart in motion. All tastes fade, of course, but not the taste for greatness they inspire; each love escapes us, but not the longing it provokes for a better convivium, a higher session. We embrace the world in all its glorious solidity, yet it struggles in our very arms, declares itself a pilgrim world, and, through the lattices and windows of its nature, discloses cities more desirable still.

You indict me, no doubt, as an incurable romantic. I plead guilty without contest. I see no other explanation of what we are about. Why do we marry, why take friends and lovers, why give ourselves to music, painting, chemistry, or cooking? Out of simple delight in the resident goodness of creation, of course; but out of more than that, too. Half of earth’s gorgeousness lies hidden in the glimpsed city it longs to become. For all its rooted loveliness, the world has no continuing city here; it is an outlandish place, a foreign home, a session in via to a better version of itself—and it is our glory to see it so and thirst until Jerusalem comes home at last. We were given appetites, not to consume the world and forget it, but to taste its goodness and hunger to make it great.

That is the inconsolable heartburn, the lifelong disquietude of having been made in the image of God. All man’s love is vast and inconvenient. It is tempting, of course, to blunt its edge by caution. It is so much easier not to get involved–to thirst for nothing and no one, to deny that matter matters and, if you have the stomach for it, to make your bed with meanings which cannot break your heart. But that, it seems to me, is neither human nor Divine. If we are to put up with all other bothers out of love, then no doubt we must put up with the bother of love itself and not just cut and run for cover when it comes.

First of all, such faintness is unworthy of true men. We are the lords, the priests, and the lovers of the world; it is by our hands that cities will be built if they are built at all. But anything to which we lie so close cannot be a matter of cool detachment and scientific indifference. If I am to lift music, I must lay such hands upon it as not only gives me power over it, but also gives it power over me. If I am to be the priestly agent by which some girl with high cheekbones enters the exchanges of the city, I must be prepared for the possibility that she may wind my clock beyond all mortal hope of repair. Love is as strong as death. Man was made to lead with his chin; he is worth knowing only with his guard down, his head up, and his heart rampant on his sleeve.

But second, last, and most important, playing it safe is not Divine. We have come to the end. I tell you simply what I believe. Love is the widest, choicest door into the Passion. God saved the world not by sitting up in heaven and issuing antiseptic directives, but by becoming man, and vulnerable, in Jesus. He died, not because He despised the earth, but because He loved it as a man loves it–out of all proportion and sense. And when He rose again, He stood up like a man indeed: with glorious scars–and with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of man’s nature.

-Robert Farrar Capon

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful in particular for writers, pastors, and teachers who help us to remember this message anew on a regular basis, and I’m thankful for the message itself, not only for the depth of God’s love toward us but the courage, strength, pain, and vulnerability of it all. May we have the guts to love others even a fraction of the way He’s loved us.

Finally, I am thankful that this reality we long for, this city, this home–that it’s real. That He’s given everything for us to have it. The goodness we experience now is only a taste.

Beka Johnson
Beka Johnson

Beka is the Director of Inbound Marketing for a fintech company in the Seattle area. She loves dabbling, reading, scheming, writing, and dreaming up ways to make good things better. When she’s not working, you can find her digging up all sorts of adventures in her new city.

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