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Happy Thanksgiving!
 
It’s an early morning and the neighbor’s rooster is crowing. Today is a day to count your blessings and I’m not sure that this rooster is one of mine. Blessing has taken new meaning for me here in Kenya and is one of the reminders of how my journey continues to call me to deeper faith in the One from whom all blessings flow.
 
Blessing can seem to be ubiquitous here. I learned the word Baraka as part of the first Swahili proverbs I was taught. Haraka haraka haina baraka. There is no blessing in rushing. I was then taught the common saying – Ubarikiwe – May you be blessed.  In the traditional Swahili culture, younger people are to ask for a blessing from an elder, saying Shikamoo, with the elder responding, Marahaba, a practice still prevalent in the coastal area where I work. But it took me some good amount of time for all the blessing around me to soak in.
 
Children are a blessing. Visitors are a blessing. Rain is a blessing.
 
I’m slowly learning not to refuse blessings.  Sometimes the gratitude of others I work with or am able to assist spills forth as a blessing on me.  I want to say, “It’s part of my job.” or “It’s no big deal.”  I try to cover my embarrassment by responding that God has already blessed me.  And the response is another blessing.  I was blessed last week by a Hindu restaurant owner who asked me what I was doing. I have been blessed by mothers, widows, grandparents, community health workers, and even practical strangers I meet. I hope to be more gracious in receiving these blessings and more generous in my blessings of others.
 
Today is Thanksgiving. The other blessings, not of words, but of those that I hold within, make me teary-eyed as I remember them today, not from sadness, but gratitude.  My family, friends, moments of connection with others, being in mission, these children I try to serve, the beauty of creation around me, the faith I have been given.  I have so much to be grateful for.
 
Including the children, visitors and rain.
 
May you be blessed and may you have the grace to receive the blessings you are given.
Mary

Erik Cambier
Erik Cambier served as Maryknoll lay missioner for 25 years, in Tanzania, the United States, Venezuela and El Salvador.