Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Holidays and nostalgia go hand in hand. As the November days grow shorter and colder, the sights, smells and feelings of my childhood Thanksgivings become almost physically real. My stomach becomes slightly queasy with the remembered feeling of bumping over country roads as the smell of potato filling wafted from the back seat of our minivan. My eyes grow wide with the remembered sight of my cousins sprawled in front of the tv watching the Macy's Day Parade. And my nose tingles with the remembered smell of turkey roasting and vegetables overcooking in my Nana's kitchen. I treasure these memories and the moments they recall.
Nostalgia, a term coined in the 17th century, was formed from two Greek words: nostos, meaning "homecoming," and algos, meaning "pain." How fitting. We long to return to the home of those memories but that longing can be painful as we face the reality that the present cannot live up to the past, that those who populate our memories are no longer with us, that the past wasn't what we wanted it to be or should have been.
My Thanksgiving nostalgia also includes the stress that I picked up from family tensions I didn't understand but felt. It includes sadness that my family will probably only be fully together again at my Nana's funeral. It includes pain that my favorite uncle turned out to be an abusive husband and father.
Even so, I am grateful for each of these memories and all that they hold; they are part of the textured and rich history that has made me who I am. I am grateful that God welcomes our anxieties and supplications as well as our gratitude. And I am grateful that God's peace guards our hearts and minds. It is a peace which surpasses all understanding, not tidying up the past but rather transforming it so that the present and future become God's. Thanks be to God for that.
Holy God, be with me this Thanksgiving, with all its memories, anxiety, gratitude, hopes and disappointments. May your peace guard my heart and mind. Amen.