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Stitching a thanksgiving “quilt of words” together

I’ve had a terrible time getting down to writing this reflection for Thanksgiving Day. It seems I’ve mentally gathered a basket of cloth scraps – scraps of colors that don’t match or complement one another – scraps of cloth that refuse to coalesce into any pleasing pattern or coherent notion.

Over the last few days I’ve gathered these scraps from disparate sources – holy and profane: newspaper articles, TV news reports, the liturgy for Thanksgiving Day, Nan Merrill’s Psalms for Praying, a Thanksgiving prayer included in our monthly SP mailing that goes to all of our local communities and lastly, a “holy card” that slipped out of a book I had been reading months ago, stopped reading and just picked up today. In the end, the little card is the scrap that caught my fancy and started me stitching my word crazy quilt together.

Allow me to empty before you my basket of scraps. I leave it to you, dear reader, to create your own design from these offerings.

From the newspaper and TV: one out of 30 U.S. children are homeless; one out of 7 U.S. families go to bed hungry every night; across the U.S. in this fiscal year, local food banks and/or food pantries have received more donations of food or money than in the last five years; Catholic Charities organizations will feed thousands of people on Thanksgiving Day thanks to the generosity of donors; U.S. households waste more food than any other nation of Earth.

From the liturgy for Thanksgiving Day: The responsorial psalm is a portion of Psalm 145. I resonate with this verse: “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness. The Lord is good to all and compassionate to all [God’s] works.”

In Nan Merrill’s translation, the verse reads this way: “The Beloved is gracious and merciful, allowing every soul free will with abiding love. Gratitude and quiet joy overflow as I recall the abundant blessings of your grace!”

From the prayer sent in our SP monthly mailing: It begins with this quote from President Abraham Lincoln as he inaugurated a national day of thanksgiving in 1863: “The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful Providence of Almighty God.”

Another scrap from the prayer: “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was ‘thank you,’ that would suffice.” (Meister Eckhart)

And the “holy card” that slipped out of the neglected book … In trying to figure out just what drew and draws me to the unacknowledged author’s idea, I believe that it gives me something simple and effective to do as I live in the midst of the great suffering and the great beauty of God’s people and all of God’s creation.

I offer its words to you, its sentiment to you as both thanksgiving greeting and prayer. It’s something we can do together for the good of all – in fact, it’s impossible for any of us to do alone.


Feels good,
Dispels loneliness,
Overcomes fears,
Builds self-esteem,
(Wow! They actually want
to hug me?)
Slows down aging,
Huggers stay younger longer,
Eases tension,
Fights insomnia,
Keeps arm and shoulder muscles
in good condition,
Is ecologically sound,
Does not upset the environment,
Is democratic,
Anyone is eligible for a hug,
Is portable,
Affirms physical well-being,
Is energy-efficient, saves heat,
Makes impossible days possible,
Makes happy days happier.
(Author Unknown)

 Happy Thanksgiving, friends and Associates!

Sister Denise Wilkinson
General Superior

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Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise Wilkinson

Sister Denise was the general superior of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods from 2006-2016. She previously served as a high school teacher, college administrator, postulant/novice director and director of advancement and communications for the Congregation. Currently, Sister Denise serves the Congregation in various volunteer positions.

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  1. Avatar Carol Nolan on November 23, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    Thanks so much, Denise; hugs to you!

  2. Avatar Cindy Martin on November 24, 2014 at 5:44 am

    Special (((hugs))) for you Sr. D. Can’t wait to see you on the 3rd. Have a blessed Thanksgiving!!!

  3. Avatar Joann Kennelly on November 24, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    Denise, This was so simeple and really made me think. Several Woods alums from here travelled to the San Diego area this Saturday to attend the funeral of Putt Esch. She had been a quilter. I am a relatively new quilter. All this is really sending a big message to me. We create our own lives with all the scraps of fabric God sends our way. Thanks for that. Have a great Holiday. Love, Joann Kennelly

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