LET THE JOURNEY BEGIN

Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. – Matthew 7:7-8
 
In preparation of our Thanksgiving All School Convocation this year, students and faculty explored the question, ‘What does Thanksgiving look like to you?’ The idea is to reflect on what comes to the mind and heart, then to capture it with words and an image on an index card. These creations are now lining the windows of Aye Arboretum, livening the space up with inspiration and joy. Of course, some cards have turkeys and families gathering around tables for a meal. But there are also hearts, football, pets, the beach, friends, snowflakes (in Detroit), flowers, and the ocean. Some words that are captured include celebration, happiness, feast, thankful, life, teachers, opportunity, and gather. One student identified gratitude for Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, friends, and chocolate milk. Another named ham, naps, sharing, giving, and Native Americans. Yet another came up with this Hallmark-card-worthy quote: “It’s more about togetherness than food.”
 
The images that come to mind for me capture a bit of my family’s annual Thanksgiving adventure — finding that elusive, not too big or small, too full or sparse, perfect Christmas tree for our home. One photograph shows my son Felix and me on the train at a Christmas tree farm outside of Houston, Texas. Another shows us getting ready to handsaw down the one that was calling our name. (As a side note, Alabama is my undergrad alma mater, and Thanksgiving weekend also marks the annual Iron Bowl, the clash between my Crimson Tide and archrival Auburn Tigers.) And the other is a family photo of the tree that made the ‘cut’.
 
For at least 12 years now, the hunt begins the Friday after Thanksgiving. We have traveled over an hour some years; other years we have gone to in-town lots. Whatever the case, we see the day as an adventurous journey. No matter the distance, we are headed in a particular direction; on the lookout for what lies ahead. This literal journey is a wonderful Thanksgiving reminder of the call to a figurative turn inward. Like many others, we will stop over the days to come, reflecting on all there is to be grateful for in this life. We will take a holy pause to notice the shower of blessings raining down, urging us to give out of this place of abundance. 
 
In many ways, on Thanksgiving days, our journey begins.
 
As it turns out, the Season of Advent often begins the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. For Christians, Advent is a season of preparation, hope, joy, and longing for the coming of God in the flesh. Followers anticipate the birth of Christ, reorienting life on the holy in our midst. This spiritual journey is both inward and outward, as believers seek to see God in the world, while also reflecting on the movement of God within. Both are considered pilgrimages, and similar to the adventures of my family, they are journeys in a particular direction; on the lookout for what lies ahead. 
 
May Thanksgiving weekend be a source of nourishment and inspiration for us all. And may God warm our hearts with gratitude, sparking the next chapter of our journey.
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Founded in 1960, Berkeley is an independent, Episcopal, college-preparatory day school located in Tampa, FL, for boys and girls in grades Pre-Kindergarten through 12. Approximately 1,400 students gather here from the greater Tampa Bay area to form ONE Berkeley.