No gorillas in the carport

During this Thanksgiving season, I am reminded that growing up in Arkansas, each Thanksgiving Day my rather large family would gather around my grandparents’ dinner table for a feast of turkey, dressing, dirty rice, and more varieties of pie than I could count. Before we could eat we were required to take turns around the table sharing what we were most thankful for. My grandparents, who vividly remembered the Depression, would offer thanks for health and prosperity. My parents would offer thanks for their children. Normally the children would give thanks for our friends or our favorite toys. But one year, when my younger brother was still small enough to be sitting on the phone book, he piped up and said, “I’m thankful that there’s not a gorilla in the carport.”
We stared at him. My father considered chastising him for making a mockery of such a solemn family tradition. But then we all realized that it was a good thing that there wasn’t a gorilla in the carport. We were all thankful for that. And so, that, too, became part of the tradition. Now each year someone is sure to give thanks — and we’re working on a forty-year record, though our thanks will be expressed over Zoom this year — that there are still no gorillas in any of our collective carports. (You should know that when I moved to Houston I called the Zoo to make sure any and all primates are kept securely under lock-and-key.)
At first glance, it may seem like a silly family tradition. But not so. Its import is that it reminds us each year of family members gone — all of my grandparents are now deceased — and of a formative time in our family’s life, when children were being raised, family security was being established, and love was abundant. It reminds us of where we have been, who we were becoming at that time, and who we still hope to be.
That is, I believe, what all good traditions do. They remind us of where we’ve been, who we are becoming, and who we still hope to be.
I pray that in your family, your walk with God at the Cathedral is a cherished part of your tradition. If not, then I invite you this season to nurture a new tradition: Make the Cathedral a central part of your life. Talk to God, listen for God, and commune with your brothers and sisters in Christ, in all the ways — virtually and in person — the Cathedral provides. Allow Christ Church to be the lens through which you remember where you’ve been in life, honor the disciple you are becoming, and look forward to the Christian you hope to be.
And know that for you, I am thankful.

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