Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Other Side of Giving Thanks

      One day is not nearly enough time for me to take stock of all the things for which I am thankful.  My life is nothing if not blessed.  Even a year would not be enough time.  From the moment I wake up (in a warm bed I am thankful for, next to an amazing husband and perfect child I am eternally thankful for, under a roof I am thankful to have, to get ready for a job I am thankful for, . . .) until the long, full day is done, every moment overflows with people, things, and circumstances that I can not adequately express my gratitude for, given any amount of time.

      Thanksgiving is a day of pure joy for the fact that I am so very blessed that I can never truly to justice to the purpose of the day.  I try to find some time to spend in quiet meditation and prayer for my gratitude.  Granted, sometimes this time is short, what with the chaos of cooking food I am thankful for and spending time with family I am thankful for.  But I try.  And this year, we are doing a Thankful Tree (pictures to come after the holiday - probably ;-)).  At every possible moment, I work to keep the Thanks in Thanksgiving.  In the same way that many Christians despise the term X-mas, I get annoyed when Thanksgiving is called Turkey Day.

      But the day is not only about Thanks to me.  Or, more appropriately, Thanks to me is about more than simply taking stock of what I have.  For me, Thanksgiving is also very much about awareness of, and compassion for, those who have less.

      There is no such thing as "Turkey Day" for those who cannot afford to eat.

      The sermon on Sunday at our UU Church was about Thanksgiving Prayers.  There were a number of prayers discussed, but the two that spoke to me most truly captured what Thanksgiving means in our family.

      The first is by Samuel F. Pugh:
O God, when I have food,
help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work,
help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a home,
help me to remember those who have no home at all;
When I am without pain,
help me to remember those who suffer,
And remembering,
help me to destroy my complacency;
bestir my compassion,
and be concerned enough to help;
By word and deed,
those who cry out for what we take for granted.

      The second is from the book Bless This Food: Ancient and Contemporary Graces from Around the World, an outstanding book for families of all religions.  It is this book's take on a UU prayer:

Eternal Spirit of Justice and Love,
At this time we would be aware
of our dependance upon the Earth
and on the sustaining presence of other human beings
both living and gone before us.
As we partake of bread and wine,
may we remember that there are many for whom
sufficient bread is a luxury,
or for whom wine, when attainable,
is only an escape.
Let our thanksgiving for life's bounty
include a committment to changing the world
that those who are now hungry may be filled
and those without hope may be given courage.
- Credited to the Congregation of Abraxis

      This year, as you sit down before a pletiful meal, or as you find yourself filled with joy in all life has given you, take a moment to remember those who may be thankful merely to have a drink of water or see their children fed.  But do not then sink into sadness at the state of things.  Instead, rejoice in your ability to make a difference.  And on this day of thanks, make a resolution that this year, you will give others something to be Thankful for.

      Teach your children Compassion, Empathy, and Charity.  And also, teach yourself.  And remember that in every thing you have to be thankful for, there is something worth sharing.

       May you all have a wonderful, blessed, and safe Thanksgiving!  And if you are reading this, know that you are one of the many things I am Thankful for this year.


MiMi said...

Amen. <3

Kaity said...

Beautifully said, and I couldn't agree more!

Never heard of Bless this Food, but I'm planning on writing my thesis between the relationship between Christianity and food. I'll definitely have to check it out!

Karen Peterson said...

I totally agree about "Turkey Day." Drives me nuts.

This is a beautiful post, and I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving.

Kelly Robinson said...

Found your blog through the A Peek at Katie's Blog nominees. Happy to find a fellow UU!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin