A Thousand Thanks (at least) concluded
I give thanks for my unexpected reconnection with the Episcopal Church over the past year and for finding a place in the community that is St. Richard’s Episcopal parish. I give thanks for the rector there, Alison, who is a fellow graduate of my seminary in Berkeley. Alison reminds me of the many wonderful things I was given a chance to learn in seminary for which I am deeply thankful. I am grateful for the inclusive spirit of that congregation and the occasional opportunities I am offered and can take to participate in the worship and education programs there. Even in the darkness of the Diocese of Central Florida, light shines.
I also remember with gratitude my time at St. Philips parish, San Jose, and the wonderful community which welcomed Andy and I into their lives. Those four years in California changed our lives and I will be eternally grateful to the people who made that possible.
In particular I am grateful to Bishop Richard Shimpfky, may he rest in peace, for taking a chance on me and ordaining me priest. I cherish my priesthood and am thankful for the occasional opportunities I am offered to exercise it.
I am deeply grateful for the Third Order Franciscan community of which I am a part. I celebrate 20 years as a professed Franciscan this year. I thank Joan Verret for having recognized my Franciscan vocation so many years ago and for the Order which patiently guided me through the process to profession. Peace and all Good!
I am deeply grateful and greatly relieved that Barrack Obama was reelected President this month. I am not sure America totally deserves a president as capable as Obama but I am glad that we did not take the bait for yet another round of privileged white boy mediocrity this time. I am also thankful that American politics appears to be finally throwing off the yoke of its white straight men of privilege and beginning to reflect the wonderfully diverse people we have become as Americans.
I give thanks that the presumption of homophobia which has darkened the American ideals of equality and justice so many years is finally giving way to the practice of justice in places all over America. And I look forward to the day when Equal Justice For All will be more than a mere inscription over the doors of the U.S. Supreme Court where Andy and I were legally married.
For All My Teachers:
I also give thanks for all the many teachers in my life, both formal and informal, in all areas of my learning, growth and development. I will forever be in your debt. I only hope I was mindful enough to thank you for your patient, tireless gifts to me.
Among my teachers, I am most grateful to the peoples and cultures of Latin America who have so strongly shaped me these many years in ways the little boy growing up in Bushnell, Florida, could never have imagined. And I am grateful to the many working poor people of color among whom I have worked most of my life. It is they who have patiently taught me about my own unearned privilege and all the unfounded presumptions about the world such privilege generates, of my obligations to the larger world outside myself and my immediate circles. It is they who have taught me the meaning of true generosity and the truth of our profound interdependence. Bill Clinton sums this up well with this observation: “We’re all in this together” is a far better philosophy than “You’re on your own”.
And so much more:
Writing a list of that for which one is thankful is a dangerous business on a good day. It is fraught with the potential of omitting gifts one ought to mention and people one does not want to appear to take for granted. The following is a sort of post scriptum which recognizes the potential for omissions and inconsideration and begs pardon in advance for those gifts and their givers whom I fail to mention:
I give thanks for the Florida Humanities Council and the many opportunities it provides me to serve the community outside academia. I often feel most alive when I am present at those events.
I give thanks for living in a lovely city which cares for its appearance and spends money on landscaping to maintain its self-designation as “The City Beautiful” even as it treats its homeless people like detritus. Beauty is far too often but skin deep. I also give thanks for the landscaping and custodial crews at the university who do their best to make the highly unimaginative architecture and largely dysfunctional physical plant (the reason one should never let linear thinking engineers carry out the minimalist plans of bottom line businessmen) a bearable place to work.
I am grateful for my opportunity to become a lawyer and the experience I gained as an attorney. I am even more grateful that I no longer have to make my living practicing law.
Finally, I give thanks for the stellar beauty of this Thanksgiving Day and for the food and fellowship which awaits us. In remembering with deep gratitude all of the people who have shaped my life in so many ways, I conclude this litany of thanks with the prayer for all occasions taught me by the Very Rev. Bob Vanderau, one of my life’s greatest teachers and loyal friends:
For these and all thy many other blessings may G-d’s holy name be praised through Jesus the Christ our Lord. AMEN.
The Rev. Harry Scott Coverston, M.Div. J.D., Ph.D.
Member, Florida Bar (inactive status)
Priest, Episcopal Church (Dio. of El Camino Real, CA)
Instructor: Humanities, Religion, Philosophy of Law
University of Central Florida, Orlando
If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding.
Most things of value do not lend themselves to production in sound bytes. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++