Words to ground us in gratitude.
Thanksgiving is a time to pause in the midst of a busy time of year, remember the blessings we have been given, and share our gratitude with friends, family, and community.
This year, I wanted to assemble a set of readings that I feel embody the spirit of thanksgiving. I hope they remind you of all that you have to be grateful for, and encourage you in this season.
A Reflection on Gratitude
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. It turns problems into gifts, failures into successes, the unexpected into perfect timing, and mistakes into important events.
It can turn an existence into a real life, and disconnected situations into important and beneficial lessons. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength.
Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.
Excerpt from the Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863
The year that is drawing towards its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.
In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.
Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.
No human counsel hath devised nor hath an mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
9 Then Nehemiah the governor, Ezra the priest and teacher of the Law, and the Levites who were instructing the people said to them all, “This day is holy to the Lord your God. Do not mourn or weep.” For all the people had been weeping as they listened to the words of the Law.
10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
A psalm. For giving grateful praise.
1 Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.
There is so much to be thankful for each day.
Today we take the time to pause and acknowledge this special season of harvest and its traditions of sharing with those less fortunate.
We take the time to notice the labor of others, from farm to table, that culminates in this feast. Today we pause to recognize how fortunate we are and to be grateful for the bounty we share with friends, family, and loved ones, be they with us or far away.
We take pause to celebrate that we each can and do make meaning for our own lives; by the deeds we do, to make the world a better and a more humane home for all. Every day offers us the opportunity to make a difference not just in our own lives but in the lives of others. We offer our hands, our minds, and our hearts, to help all those who seek to make the world a better place.
Today we take time to rejoice not just with the food we share but also the give and take of love and compassion that we experience each day.
We are thankful to each of you for being here to share today with us.
-Rebecca Joseph Hale
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird–equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect?
Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium. The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all ingredients are here,
Which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
And these body-clothes, a mouth with which to give shouts of joy to the moth
And the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam, telling them all,
Over and over, how it is that we live forever.