In two days it will be Thanksgiving. Time to gather with our family and loved ones, prepare a multitude of sumptuous dishes, gather at table to express our gratitude and feast. At least, that's how it's supposed to be. But is this really true for everyone?
Consider that Thanksgiving itself celebrates a meal held three hundred years ago in honor of the great kindness shown to the Pilgrims by the American Indians. That feast would have never taken place if the first inhabitants of this continent had not willingly shared their native wisdom and knowledge. Without that kindness, the Pilgrims could not have survived the challenging climate of this new land.
The Thanksgiving meal, with its centerpiece dishes of native American foods–cranberry sauce, roasted turkey, pumpkin pie–is intended to replicate that first feast, shared by people of two very different cultures so very long ago.
The kindness of the Indians, their generosity and willingness to coexist with a strangely-customed group of savage (to them) invaders, was not returned by the White Man. Instead, as we all know, Native American tribes across the continent were systematically decimated, relocated and relegated to live within small, tightly boundaried reservations. Therefore to me, at its root or at least in part, the Thanksgiving holiday symbolizes genocide and betrayal.
On the other hand, the idea of a holiday dedicated to the act of giving thanks has wonderful potential. Along with love and forgiveness, cultivating gratitude, or grace, is amongst the highest of human actions. To feel and express gratitude opens our hearts, improves our relationships and humbles us to acknowledge the gift of those people and things which give our life true meaning.
What am I grateful for? This is the question to ponder in the coming hours and days leading up to the Big Event of a holiday named in honor of the act and the art of Giving Thanks. No matter what hardships or joys we face at this time, whether we spend Thanksgiving alone or in a crowd, with family or friends, feasting or fasting, we all can take this opportunity to pause, reflect upon and recognize all that is deserving of our thanks and gratitude. And may we pray.
Life is a gift, rare and precious and oh so fleeting. May we use our time here on earth to generate positive energy and goodwill, to serve others. May our actions benefit the highest good of all beings... ourselves, our loved ones, our neighbors and all those who remain unknown to us.
I feel so fortunate to have ease and comfort in my life, healthy children, a loving partner, work that fulfills me and benefits others, wonderful friends, adorable pets, woods to hike in, organic farms all around. For these things and many more, I am grateful.
May all my brothers and sisters around the world have a safe home, good food and water, meaningful work, supportive community. May suffering be lifted. May all the soldiers come home. May we learn to settle our differences in an atmosphere of respect and harmony. May peace reign supreme in the hearts of men.
Near and far, may all beings be happy, conscious, free and well-nourished, in every way.
With infinite gratitude and heartfelt hope for humanity,