I used to think of Thanksgiving weekend as a time of celebration and joy. It’s a time for delighting in a good harvest of field and garden, of smiling at memories made this summer, the renewal we received when we were away from regular schedules and obligations. And now we have all the joys of fall: vibrant colours, and crisp apples, and the smell of wool sweaters coming out of storage.
It’s important to take the time to stop and be intentional about noticing all that we have. Whether we say a formal grace over the feast, or ask those around the table to share what they are thankful for, it’s good to recognize the gifts that we have in our life. And when we’re given a gift it’s only polite to say thank you.
But I’m finding giving thanks isn’t enough anymore. Because when I am honest, and realize just how many people contributed, for example, to my meals, I am overwhelmed. There must be thousands of people bringing it from field to table — farm workers, truck mechanics, the Dakota people who agreed to share this land with us, the workers at the canning factory, the people who made my stove…. And even that things grow from the earth; it’s amazing to realize how the tomatoes grew in my garden when it was clearly with no help from me whatsoever. I am humbled by it and wonder how I could ever have thought that all this was by my own work alone – or that it belongs only to me?
I don’t feel badly or guilty about “all that I have”, but I find that thanks-giving isn’t enough; what is emerging is a sense of gratitude.
Gratitude comes from that humility of seeing I’m not as independent as I think; it pulls me into to seeing just how interdependent I am with the whole web of Creation. Gratitude makes me see Life as a gift. It opens my heart, and then prompts me into action.
So when I am supporting the local Food Banks, and asking “why is there still a need for these in Canada?”, it’s not because I’m a “good” or even “generous” person; it’s because my spiritual well-being depends on it.
Lilla Watson, an Indigenous Woman from the Murri people of Australia, once said: “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”
Gratitude feels like it recognizes that interdependence, and comes from a place deeper in the soul. I hope you take time this Thanksgiving season to stop and notice what you have
. And how you come to have it. And that your thanks that blossoms into gratitude. It’s an amazing experience of blessing.
Thanks to: Meister Ekhart for the quote, pinterest.com and timeanddate.com for the photos.