Giving Thanks: A Celebration of Generosity

Every year it feels as if I come screeching into Thanksgiving. This year it feels particularly acute. As you read this I am hurtling through the air at almost 600 mph on my way back home from Asia. My dirty little secret is that I actually don’t mind long flights. I can sit quietly, read, think and doze. No email. No phones. It’s an introvert’s paradise.

On this flight, I will be anticipating my return home after almost two weeks of travel. Our daughter will have arrived after nearly a year away at college. She brings life and energy into every place she inhabits. My wife will be in full Thanksgiving dinner preparation mode when I walk in the door from the airport on Wednesday afternoon. I expect a full “honey-do” list and I will deserve it.

Mostly though, I will spend the flight thinking about everything for which I am thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

At the top of the list are my family, friends and colleagues. My family loves me despite everything I do to irritate them and make their lives difficult. Many of my friends have sustained me for decades with their insight, wit and humor. They’ve lightened my load and shown me the way. My colleagues are some of the finest people I know. They come to their work with a passion and a commitment to respect the dignity of every human being in everything they do.

I’m also thankful for the ways that God has pierced through the fog of life and touched me. Each time that I’ve felt close to God has both soothed and unsettled me. Thin places aren’t always comfortable places.

As I reflect on all that has happened in the world since last Thanksgiving, I give thanks for all of Episcopal Relief & Development’s friends and supporters. In my role as president, I can sometimes feel overwhelmed by the human need around us. Hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, disease and famine have never felt more prevalent. Fatigue and frustration are never far away. 


But not with our supporters. Time and again they have dug deep and given generously and continue to do so. They are a testament to these words from the Talmud:

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief.

Do justly, now.

Love mercy, now.

Walk humbly, now.

You are not obligated to complete the work,

but neither are you free to abandon it.

 Our supporters are an inspiration for which I give deep and profound thanks.

So as my plane lands after nearly 14 hours in the air, my heart will be full of gratitude this Thanksgiving, and not just because it’s time to get off!

Happy Thanksgiving!

God bless you and your loved ones this Thanksgiving.



Rob Radtke is the President of Episcopal Relief & Development. 

This story was orginally published on, Rob's personal travel and faith blog in which he frequently contemplates "Making room for God in your carry-on."



Images: Top — A joyful woman in Kenya; Middle 1— Happy farmers in Nicaragua; Middle 2— A family and their goat in the Philippines; Middle 3 — Rob is welcomed in Nepal.

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