Thanksgiving & Community

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Yesterday I attended a Catholic mass with my family. I’m not a Catholic but my mum is one. I never really grew up going to Church religiously. My first memory of church attendance involved a childhood asthma attack. I rarely went after that episode. My attendance in my youth was relegated to special occasions and during visits to my parent’s village at Christmas.

This visit was special. I expected the mass to last an hour since there was one before the 8:00 mass we attended and one afterwards. In my little experience with Catholic masses I recall a series of readings, prayers, a sermonette from the clergy, communion, and a benediction. This one was different.

There were announcements for special prayer requests. A man involved in a terrible car accident 6 months ago wanted prayer for continued healing. A family wanted prayer for continued success in their business. Another family wanted prayer for their sons who were based overseas.

The hymns were accompanied by drums and a melodious choir. Parishioners clapped and danced. It was the perfect combination of a traditional catholic mass and a spirit-filled Southern Pentecostal gathering. Then came the thanksgiving portion. Names of those wishing to give thanks had been submitted previously. If I thought the singing and dancing till this point was lively I wasn’t prepared for what would come next. The band and choir went into high gear with celebratory songs; families came to the altar bearing gifts, yams, provisions, and babies to be dedicated. The guy who asked for prayer for healing came forward showing his progress by leading a dance procession. Anyone wanting to also give thanks on his behalf joined the procession. You couldn’t help but smile at the expressed joy…it was infectious. Others around me went beyond smiling; they got up and danced!

All this reminded me of the importance of communities and the need to belong to one. The human psyche needs this connection. It isn’t found on a social network or on the “interweb”; it is the synergy of a shared experience in real time. It is seeing the joy in someone else’s face…the thrill of another’s accomplishments, victory, and/or survival. It is shared testimony. If you’ve been camped in front of the television watching every FIFA World Cup match the last few weeks, it’s the feeling in the stands among fans. Having been to a World Cup match myself, I know that feeling very well.

It is a key part of the success of communities like CrossFit. It is why we desire to connect…that sense of belonging. That sense that you are not alone and wherever you are, knowing there’s a group of people that has you in their thoughts or shares similar thoughts. Communities help take the focus away from “me” the individual to “us” the collective.

So next time you self-reflect and your cup runs over with things to be thankful for, take time to share it with your community. You’ll be blessing someone else in the process. What a blessing it is to give than to receive.

Cool runnings!

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