Discovering and giving thanks—together

By Mark Thomas 

mark thomas

Mark Thomas

Thanksgiving Eve this year was a gorgeous, though windy, day in central Kentucky. My wife, son, and I found ourselves heading west on the Bluegrass Parkway. Our initial destination was the small town of Hodgenville, recently profiled on the SEC Network program, True South. We were going to Laha’s Red Castle, which has been serving hamburgers there since 1934.

Laha’s was to be our “L” restaurant.

Back in the summer, our now thirteen-year-old son was inspired by a story we read in the Lexington Herald-Leader. It profiled the Tyler family, who had spent the previous year dining out at 26 different restaurants, each of which began with a different letter of the alphabet.

So, we started a similar quest. We are slowly rotating through the alphabet, each of the three of us taking a different letter. The person who has a given letter gets to choose the restaurant at which we dine. We try to select from locally owned places, though chains are occasionally allowed. (I foresee our first visit to a Qdoba in our future!)

When he had learned of our lunch plan, our son had asked if we could also visit the nearby Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site.

So, after Laha’s, we drove a few miles down Highway 31E and walked around the memorial. As we headed back toward the parkway, we made a slight detour to the Abbey of Gethsemani, the monastic community where the Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, lived for many years. It is a pleasure to drive along the country roads through this region of the state, aptly called the Knobs. We cruised past old, rusty Texaco and Gulf Oil signs.  We saw one Confederate flag flying outside of a home, but it was outnumbered by the homemade “Just be kind” signs that we counted in eight different yards along the way.

With our alphabet restaurants, we haven’t quite made it to the halfway point yet. Even so, I marvel at the diversity—the wonderful, beautiful, culinary, ethnic, historical, and creative diversity that we have experienced sharing good food together. It’s not that we didn’t ever eat diverse foods before, but this exercise is making all of us more aware of it—together. It is making us more thankful for one another, and toward one another.

As we move from Thanksgiving deeper into the season of Advent, I give thanks to God for good food, for good people who prepare it, and good people with whom to share it. I give thanks for God’s good created world, in all its manifold, even bewildering diversity.

I give thanks for the one whose coming we now eagerly anticipate—as the letter to the Colossians says, the one who is the firstborn of all creation, the one in whom all things hold together. Above all, in thanksgiving, may we clothe ourselves “with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”  (Colossians 3:14)

Mark L. Thomas is a CBF Leadership Scholar and a member of Central Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky.  After a career teaching philosophy in college, he is currently a 3rd-year M.Div. student at the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky and serves as Interim Pastor at Newtown Christian Church (DOC) in Georgetown, Ky.

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