I was running after a turkey down a long red hallway with lights on both walls every so often. Every time I reached out my hands to grab the turkey, it eluded my grasp. As I ran, the hallway stretched longer and longer. The lights flashed by as I ran ever faster but never fast enough. I wanted, no needed, to catch that turkey. Suddenly the hallway branched into many hallways and a turkey was running away down each branch. I stared wildly from hallway to hallway trying frantically to decide which turkey to chase. My eyes searched for some clue, some reason by which to decide which turkey to chase. But all the hallways were the same. And it seemed every time I looked there were more hallways with more turkeys. Panic grew inside me. The turkeys — I needed to catch them all and I couldn’t even catch one. I collapsed and began to weep. As I knelt sobbing, my tears collected around me into a great puddle. The burden of my impossible duty crushed me utterly, my sense of failure overwhelmed me and my despair was complete.
How long I sat in personal darkness I cannot say. The water of my tears lapped about my legs and I looked up. I was kneeling in the water on the gentle shore of a quiet pond. The sky was clear blue. A delicate breeze lightly ruffled the surface of the water and caused a barely perceptible waving among the trees. I felt a prickly sensation all over my skin, almost an electric vibration. I’m sure it doesn’t sound so in the telling but it was exceedingly pleasant. Quite suddenly I noticed that the hopelessness of the hallway had fallen from me. The pleasant tingling continued to lift me into peace.
“The turkeys,” I muttered. From behind me, a voice at the same time sober and spirited, said, “Ah yes, the turkeys.”
I stood and turned with a start. A man was standing a few paces from the water’s edge, tranquil in his bearing but filled with energy in his being. He was fully present with me but his eyes were as deep as the universe and seemed to see everywhere at once. I looked and saw dancing joy within him.
I stepped out of the water and walked toward him. My legs were dry as though they had never been wet.
“Sir,” I said, “you know of the turkeys?”
“I needed to catch them and could not,” said I.
“Needed?” said he. There was a tinge of sorrow in his eyes, though the joy was never in danger from the sorrow. Threads of joy ran even through the sorrow.
“I thought I needed to catch the turkeys.”
“Yes, you did think that, didn’t you?”
“Why were the turkeys running?”
“So you could chase them.”
“The turkeys were never to be caught and kept as though yours. You were created for a joyful turkey chase! Grabbing, clutching, feathers flying, falling, laughing, and jumping up to run again!” His eyes lit up and he started laughing just thinking about the spectacle!
His infectious joy set me laughing, too, as I saw myself through his eyes chasing a wild, wing-flapping bird down the hallway enjoying the chase rather than worrying about the catch.
We laughed in waves for several minutes, trading verbal pictures of crazy turkey-chasing follies.
The laughter finally subsided and I looked again into his eyes. “Then where did I get the idea that I was supposed to catch and keep the turkey for my own?”
“Will I ever get the chance to chase the turkey again, the way I was supposed to? To run down the hallway and enjoy the chase for its own sake free of the burden of catching and keeping?” I asked. Though I felt wistful that I might have missed a joyful opportunity, it was impossible to be sad in this man’s presence.
“Can you trust me with your chase? Are able to enjoy the crazy chase and not be caught up in catching the turkey?”
Again, it was the eyes that did the most work on me – inside of me, really. “Yes,” I said, “I am able.”
I felt the warmth of the sun on my cheeks and opened my eyes to a beautiful Thanksgiving morning. The smell of freshly brewing coffee drifted in from the kitchen. As I lay in bed, I remembered Ecclesiastes that chasing after the stuff of the world is chasing after the wind. Then I remembered 1 Timothy 6:6, that godliness with contentment is great gain. I resolved anew to let this Thanksgiving be a day on which my heart would be alive with gratitude and instead of chasing after earthly things, I would enjoy the journey that God has given me with the people he has placed in my life.