The « holidays » will soon be here – and with them, an empty chair at our table…

Thanksgiving is a little more than a week away. Folks are making travel plans and menu choices… Some are looking forward to began together again with  family and friends they’ve not seen in some time… Others are remembering someone, some loved ones, who won’t be at the table this year, whose chair will be empty, perhaps for the first time or for yet again another time…  For many, even for most of us, « the holidays » are a bittersweet time… a season when we should take care to be especially sensitive to others for we often do not know the burdens, the ache, the memories they carry in their hearts and thoughts… So, here’s my « annual » post: Prayer at an Empty Chair. (Though, truth be told, I tweak this text a little every year!)  I hope this prayer will help all of us prepare for Thanksgiving Day… I know some families have used this prayer as their grace before meals on Thanksgiving Day…  And as always, feel free to share this with others. (If you share this online or in a parish bulletin, I ask only that you credit it:

  Prayer at an Empty Chair 

This Thanksgiving,

there’ll be an empty
chair at our table,

an ache in our hearts
and tears on our cheeks…

We might try, we might even

in shielding our
grief from others

– but we cannot hide our hearts from

So, today we pray for (name
your loved ones)

whose loving presence
we miss

at this homecoming

Help us remember 
tell again the stories

of all we
with the very ones 
we miss
so much…

Open our hearts to our
joyful memories

of the times and love
we knew and shared

with those who’ve
gone before us…

And with your gentle touch, Lord,

smooth and mend any ragged, broken edges

still in need of your merciful healing…

May the bonds you
forged among us 
grow stronger in our remembering 
our loved ones now gone home
to you…

Help us trust in
that those we miss so much

have a place now in your

and in heaven, a seat at your

Deepen and strengthen
our hope

that one day we’ll see
them once again

and enjoy their
company and love…

Teach us, Lord, to
lean on those around us

for the help and
support we need

when our spirits flag
and fail us…

Open our hearts and
souls, Lord,

to the warmth of your

within us and among

Be with us to console
us and,

just as you embrace
the ones we miss:

hold us, too, along
with them,

in your everlasting

Give us moments of
quiet prayer today

time to share with
our lonely tears of loss
and our memories, now the souvenirs
of joyful days gone by…

In all things, Lord, help us recall

today‘s the day that you have made!
Help us give thanks for all your gifts
especially for the peace we’ve known,
in family friends and faith,
those in whom we’ve found and known
your mercy and your love…

Thank You