Monday, November 16, 2009
The Act of Thanksgiving
by Clare Brauer-Rieke
With few exceptions, and for understandable reasons, most of us have come to think of Thanksgiving as a day. For example: Thanksgiving Day this year is Thursday, November 26th (12am-11:59pm). Like many others, I plan to travel to be with my family so that we can all sit down to a bountiful harvest meal and eat more than we should. Afterward, feeling a little lethargic, we will all exchange stories and laughter (except for my unapologetic grandfather, who will leave us to watch football as he does every year).
Intuitively, I understand the connection of Thanksgiving with lots of food and family: we are grateful for bounty, in both life-sustaining food (that which sustains our body) and life-sustaining love (that which sustains our spirit). But I think that when it comes to praise and thanksgiving we may be cheating ourselves out of all the other things for which we should be grateful. The day takes precedence over the thanksgiving itself, and we lose ourselves in the requisite crazy-making that is lots of food and family.
Conversely, if the act of thanksgiving is more important than the day, joyous contemplation takes priority over the stress of family and preparing a feast. The point of Thanksgiving shifts from "I am so thankful for this surplus of food that I will eat it all, overstuff myself, and then fall asleep because of the turkey overload" (or to be fair to those who prepare the food, "I am so grateful that my kids came home from college/my grandchildren came all the way over from Kansas to be with me that I will prepare the best Thanksgiving feast ever, and it shall be perfect"), to something a little different. So, I offer my Thanksgiving reflection:
I am thankful that I have the capability to recognize grace in my life.
I am thankful that I am empowered to realize what is enough and what is too much; I am educated about the world, its need, and the need of its hungry poor.
I am thankful that my presence, my love, and my laughter are more important to my family than anything I could cook for them. Our time together can be joyful and not stressful.
I am thankful to the earth for its bounty, and for the opportunity I have to express my praise for creation in thoughtful consideration of what I consume this Thanksgiving.
I am thankful for complexity.
I am thankful for simplicity.
I am thankful for this community of believers that seeks to nourish, sustain, and protect the creation of which we are part-- a people who will give back.