It was the first Thanksgiving after World War II, and their sons were coming home. The war was finally over and Andy and Margaret Andrews of Signal Mountain, Tennessee waited for their boys to walk up to their front door.
One was a paratrooper, one was a Navy man, and the other three, including my father, had enlisted in the Army. My grandmother was named Tennessee Mother of the Year, having sent all five of her sons off to war. I’m sure it was an award she would have gladly given up to keep them out of harm’s way.
Against all odds, they made it out alive and their reunion was on Thanksgiving Day. My father told me what that day was like. He particularly remembered when they all gathered around the table with their parents and their little sister. The usually boisterous boys were quiet. The war had made them men who now recognized the solemn moment engulfing the room.
My grandfather rose to pray, as he always had. Everyone’s head was bowed. And then there was silence. After a while they looked up and saw tears streaming down his face. His mouth was open, but he couldn’t speak. His gratitude was too intense, his relief was so great, and his heart was as full as it could be. There was no need for prayer. His heart had prayed where his voice could not. He and his family were blessed beyond measure.
Today, I wonder what would happen if we paused before saying grace over our meal and thought for a minute. What if we remembered the times that we survived. The moments we were spared. The day we were rescued. The decision to come home again.
My hunch is that if we let our hearts linger on this for a while, we too would be silenced and our thankful tears would be our prayer.
Thanksgiving Day, 2012