Saturday, November 21, 2009

On Giving Thanks

As a student of history, and as any descendant of the multicultural movement, I tend to be ambivalent about national holidays. However, as is appropriate to this occasion, I am thankful for our week-long vacation. For me, these betweentimes are for repose and reflection; a reprieve from the exaggerated sense of self-importance I carry around too often. The fact that I am inside and warm on these frigid nights reminds me of the constant need for gratitude and humility. As the lyrics to one of my favorite devotional songs runs:

My Lord, my guide, take me to that shore.
After all, you brought me this far;
Won't you take me from here?

I was also raised in a religious setting with an emphasis on worship of the Divine Mother: always compassionate, always giving. It would be our privilege, in this life, to attempt to return the favor; to make of our lives a continuous expression of gratitude. The Mother's grace was a constant presence in the way our values were shaped; we could not be angry with others, be cruel to others, when we were being forgiven at every moment. Rumi says: We are here to be a forgiveness door through which freedom comes.

Gratitude, humility, compassion, forgiveness--these form the core of my own religious vocabulary. But I am most thankful for the diverse people who share them with me, each in their own particular language, their own unique beauty. I remember them--all of you, and other friends yet to be made--in my prayers this Thanksgiving, alongside the poor and homeless and wartorn and unloved. May the efforts of our group the rest of this year continue to put our shared values into direct action.


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