Giving Thanks A Native American Good Morning Message (read on YouTube) is a children’s book that speaks to all ages. “To be human” is a quote from this book that opens our eyes to the simple, yet poignant ways that we are all connected, earth and humanity alike. Here at the retreat center, we are bathed in nature while looking out through the large windows in every room. We enter Sabbath being outdoors on the patio, walking in the woods and in taking care of the native gardens, this time of year with fall mulching. We are visited by wildlife with the energetic squirrels, red fox, many wild birds and even wild turkeys.
That’s right – we have wild turkeys wandering in our nature haven. Last week a “crop,” “dole,” “gang,” “posse,” and “raffle” (all names for a group of turkeys) of eight turkeys were seen in the front yard and corner outdoor sitting area next to the atrium. The toms (male turkeys) can become aggressive and will soon bring along their friends. We “shooed” them away, keeping our distance. Did you know they sleep in trees? They fly but only short distances and can reach 55 miles per hour! I’ve seen them walking on the trail at the edge of the yard then moving off into the woods.
The calendar reads “November” and we start to ask one another, “What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” At dinner gatherings often go around the table to talk about gratitude. What do I take for granted, rarely pausing to feel gratitude? To even ask myself that question means I must become intentionally aware of my relationships – with family, friends from many parts of my life, with colleagues, and individuals I see but cannot remember their names. Some, admittedly, I fail to ask their name.
We all want to be noticed, to be welcomed, and to be accepted. Though, it is more than this. It is the desire to belong. The connection of one human being to another is a gift. Reaching outward to the air, upward to the sky, downward to the earth, and stretching to our sides are ways of touching all of creation. We connect with the earth in concert with all humanity.
We all need to nourish our bodies. Whole foods, including unprocessed snacks, bring health to the spirit, to our emotional and mental wellbeing. The “who, how, where, and when” of growing food from GMOs to organic, to wheat processing and sugar found in almost all our processed foods, impacts all parts of our lives.
Far too many children live in a food dessert. Others struggle with food scarcity being surrounded only by fast food. The national organization No Kid Hungry Share Our Strength is working to end child hunger in America where one in six children do no have the healthy food they need. Still more battle the illnesses of anorexia, bulimia and obesity. Access to clean running water is at the center of survival. We are in a web of relationship with Mother Earth and one another whether we are aware of this or not.
How are you giving thanks for all that Mother Earth provides you and all of humanity? Are you educated about climate change? About nature’s flora and fauna that needs protecting? Perhaps this month you can set aside an afternoon or evening to attend a talk. Join with others for a special time of giving thanks with a “friends-giving” celebration. Or create your own way of being aware of the needs of creation and our role in being stewards.
Why wait until the Thanksgiving celebration to give thanks? We are now in early November, and it is never too early to practice awareness with gratitude.
Blessing prayers at the Woodland Spiritual Retreats meal table.
Mother Earth, we give you thanks for the gift of food, water, and connection to all humanity. We are blessed by your gentle soothing of the soul in need of tender care. May we, too, be stewards of all creation.
Soon we will be getting ready for Advent in heart and mind. How do we pay attention to what matters having gone through this time of giving thanks? Read my next blog on Advent Conversations.
Be blessed and at peace…Cheri