Sunday, November 25, 2012

Respectfully Giving Thanks

Those of you on Facebook, twitter, Instagram, or other social networking platform have either been participating in or have friends posting updates during the "Thirty Days of Thanksgiving" by writing or posting a picture each day of November representing something for which they are thankful.  One posting from a friend today really got me thinking.  Here is the post:
Day 25 - I am thankful for refrigerators, microwave ovens and leftovers.  Seriously, without fridges we couldn't store food.  Without microwaves we couldn't quickly reheat food.  I haven't cooked since [T]hanksgiving thanks to leftovers.
This friend doesn't know how wise he/she is.  Here in the U.S., or elsewhere in the developed world (even the move developed neighborhoods/homes in the developing and underdeveloped world), we often fail to realize or forget 1) how drastically our collectively lives have changed due to technological innovations and 2) that much of the world doesn't have access to such innovations.

How likely would our family Thanksgiving celebrations be to produce such an over abundance of food if we had no where to efficiently store/preserve that which was eaten during the meal?  Would we only prepare just enough to make sure all were able to eat but making sure not to have too much knowing that the remnants would spoil?  Even if we had the storage/preservation abilities, would we make so much knowing that the preserved leftovers would have to be reheated in a similar method as originally cooked?

I'm reminded of a precious woman who worked hard to prepare a meal for me while I was in Kenya in 2002.  One of the students at Kima International School of theology invited myself and another students to venture the 10 or so miles to his mother's home (used the local public transport of a "matatu" get there).  I didn't get to witness the cooking process, but I know that much of the meal was prepared in a boiling pot (or collection of pots) over a wood fire.  No stove, no microwave, no electric oven, no...well, none of those technological innovations for which my friend (noted above) is thankful.  We ate and ate and ate and I know there was food left over and this made me feel bad.  This family shouldn't have prepared so much just for me, but I also know that I was considered an honored guest in their home and they wanted to make sure I was cared for.  I know that my student had several siblings and that after our departure I'm sure the remnants of the meal were saved from them; I'm hopeful that there was no waste from the abundance in that there was no cold storage place to preserve the items for a later time.

Like my friend, I am highly thankful for those things that I have and use as part of my daily life.  And yet, I am filled with an awesome sense of respect to those throughout the world who do not have access to the blessings of these innovations.  The struggles endured by countless many are worthy of our respect and our compassionate attention.

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