“If the only prayer you
say in your life is thank you, that would suffice.”
— Meister Eckhart
Thanksgiving Day gives
us a chance to catch up on the thanks we could be giving every hour,
every day, if we had the time to focus on it. I can understand why
some nuns enter a cloister in order to avoid distractions as they
“Thank you” makes a
nice wake-up prayer at least, especially for those of us at an age
that might not, necessarily, wake up. Reminds me of another prayer
from my childhood: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my
soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul
to take.” I liked the rhythm of it but had to wonder ... “If I
should DIE?” before I WAKE? Where’s my teddy bear?” I didn’t use
that prayer with my son.
Then there was “grace”
at the dining room table:
Followed immediately by “pass the potatoes, please.” Despite the
haste to get to the meal, we did pick up the habit of being grateful
for our food. Hopefully, that habit still kicks in, if only
subconsciously, as we drive through the take-out lane.
We must remember the
Native Americans who shared the first Thanksgiving feast with the
first immigrants. This prayer is based on their poetry. I think I
took it from a Christmas card for my quote book: “Let the eagles
soar and the deer leap with delight. Let the people hold a
ceremonial dance and celebrate the goodness that Your presence
brings this earth.”
Let’s be thankful that
Massasoit and Squanto, while helping the Plymouth settlers get
started with food production, didn’t put our nation’s founders on a
welfare system and make them dependent. America would be a very
different place. For the same reason, I’m thankful that the Pilgrims
gave up their early attempt at communitarianism and passed on a
tradition of property ownership, with hard work being rewarded.
I wish that, moving
forward, there had been a way to share the country with the Native
Americans, or at least that America had kept its treaty agreements.
Despite that sorry mark
on our history, we know why so many people have wanted and still
want to come here: Our Founding Fathers deliberately created
something better than the 18th-century country they themselves came
from and the European countries with which it often went to war.
It’s safe to say said Founders wouldn’t approve of our allowing the
Islamic culture that is causing problems in Europe today to
influence the American way of life.
Of course, when they
told us to grow our own healthy country and stay out of foreign
wars, we were protected by two oceans from being impacted by the
evil that grows abroad.
I am so thankful that
I’m not a woman in a Muslim country. Also glad I don’t live in a
community with people who think looting a liquor store is proper use
of our constitutional “freedom of assembly.”
I’m thankful I don’t
live in Buffalo. My recent column referencing “climate change,” in
which I mentioned that Great Lakes region’s winters aren’t as bad as
they were when I grew up there, ran just days before 7 feet of snow
fell on Buffalo.
World history being
what it is, we do well to focus our thanks on what we can control;
The 2014 election is giving us another chance to have a country and
commonwealth for which to be thankful. And then there are the small
In Thornton Wilder’s
“Our Town,” Emily, who died young in childbirth, looks back on her
short life and lists the things she misses: ...”clocks ticking ...
and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses
and hot baths ... and sleeping and waking up.”
I’m thankful for the
quiet, non-ticking alarm clock in my smartphone. I haven’t worn an
ironed dress, or even a dress, in years. But we get the point. For
me, it’s the kitchen clock with birdsong on the hour, my lilacs and
diaschia, neighborhood sunflowers; certainly food and coffee, hot
showers, sleeping on my Tempur-pedic mattress, and yet waking up to
be thankful for another day.
I’m thankful that I
don’t have the urge to travel for holidays. Much happier just
thinking about my son, his wife and the twins driving from Nevada to
connect in Oregon with his two half-brothers who live in other
western states; they found an inn where they can share Thanksgiving
dinner. I’m grateful for the Weather Channel so I know if/when to
worry about their traveling.
I’m really glad that my
teenage grandson can make the trip after his most recent visit to
the emergency room. I guess I’m grateful for the modern technology
that gave me the video of his daring trail-bike ride over a backyard
ramp that he and his friends built. As his twin sister told Grumpaw,
“I knew this wouldn’t end well.” Aidan landed on his neck, but
without breaking it. When I asked, knowing I should, about his
beloved bike, he said it wasn’t damaged because it landed on his
face — which explains the bruised face, texted from the hospital.
Never mind. The
important thing is not what we worry about, it’s what we appreciate.
My final Thanksgiving quote, from Rupert Brook:
“White plates and cups,
clean-gleaming ... the cool kindliness of sheets, that soon smooth
away trouble, and the rough male kiss of blankets; grainy wood; live
hair that is shiny and free; blue-massing clouds; the keen
unpassioned beauty of a great machine ...”
Feel free to add your
own favorite things here as we all say the “thank you” prayer today.