I wrote this reflection as part of my sermon for an Ecumenical Thanksgiving service yesterday. It was based on this article, “Second Blessing” that I used as the basis for my sermon. His idea in a nutshell, is that the story of Jesus and the Ten Lepers found in Luke 17 teaches us that there is a connection between our perception of our blessings and the vocalizing of our thanksgiving, and being made whole. The tenth leper, and the only one to return and give thanks to Jesus for his healing, receives a second blessing because he perceives and vocalizes his thanksgiving. He was already healed, but now has been made whole. This is the story of my second blessing.
So what does this second blessing, this wholeness that comes after articulate our gratitude look like? Well let me give you one example; I had this moment a few days ago that was holy for me. For those of you from the other congregations who don’t know me, I have a bit of an unconventional family. Four years ago this week, my husband and I were blessed to have 3 children walk into our home from the WV foster care system. They were 5, 6 and 15 at the time and are now 9, 10, and 19 (almost 20!) It has been four years of struggle, and blessing, of hardship and joy, laughter and tears. 2 years ago the adoption of our oldest daughter was finalized—2 months before her 18th birthday, and a year ago this past August, the adoption of our younger two daughters was finalized. During those 4 years, and even a bit before, I had 5 miscarriages. The last one happened right before thanksgiving 2012. So that’s the background. In April, my oldest daughter told me she was pregnant. It has been a long 9 months, as I waded through all of the feelings that have gone along with this pregnancy. Worry and fear for my daughter, because I know that life as a young, single mom is going to be hard. Sadness as her pregnancy triggered my own grief and loss. Joy because as a good friend of mine says, “a baby is always a blessing, no matter how or when it comes.” Jealousy and envy—because my body can’t do what Amira’s can. My pain was still fresh, but her joy was fresh also and at times they have intersected in ways that were not fun. As we’ve gone through the ultrasounds, and doctors appointments—all firsts for me, and for her— it sounds harsh, but there’ve been moments where I was just dreading all of it. But then just this last week, I was with her and my mother as she taught us a birthing class, and as we laughed and planned and learned, this overwhelming sense of joy and peace flooded over me. I was finally FINALLY excited to be in this with her. I am OVERJOYED at the thought of (any moment) becoming a grandmother. (a really young and hip one…well as hip as I’ve ever been…) So that was my first blessing. But THEN I voiced it. First I named it to some close friends of mine, fellow preacher women, and they joined me in giving praise to God. Then my girls and I were walking around the neighborhood this week (trying to get that baby out!) and I got to turn to Amira and say “I am so excited, and so proud and so thankful to be doing this with you.” And the look on her face– that was my second blessing.
Last week I received healing from God, and in vocalizing my thanks I received wholeness. I’m sure that there will be (and are) other ways I’m broken and need healing. Other pieces of my self that need to be made whole. But today, for this second blessing, I will give praise to God. I pray that this thanksgiving, as you give praise to God you also receive healing and wholeness.