I was at my brother’s house last Saturday for the ‘Saturday Before Thanksgiving Feast’, a tradition put in place by our mother when she was alive. It was particularly poignant this year as our mother’s sister was in the ICU and we weren’t sure whether she would ever join us again. So we set time aside to celebrate, acknowledge and appreciate all who had gone before, all who are still here, and all who will go on after we are gone – three generations were present for the feast.
And we left out the thanks. We simply didn’t have it in our practice to bless the table, each other and the amazing bounty of the earth. How was this even possible? There were 14 of us. We sat down to a table literally overflowing with food. It was amazing and overwhelming in its bounty. Fresh bread baked that morning, thinly sliced turkey and pork that had been deboned and brined, mashed potatoes, roasted root vegetables, a fresh salad with the bright orange of persimmon and sparkling jewels of pomegranate, wine and sparkling cider overflowing our glasses. And for dessert, my newest culinary foray – blackberry, sour cherry and Banbury Pop Tarts used as scoops for sweetened whipped cream.
And we just sat down and ate. I joined them even though giving thanks is part of my daily practice, even though at home and at Maacama we begin every meal with thanks and appreciation, as a practice to generate rather than unconsciously consume. Again, how was this even possible? I got caught up in the eddy of what we always do, I got caught in the eddy of my unconscious behavior when I get together with my family of origin. I was caught as a singular voice in a group that was simply doing as it always does and doing it well, even though there was so much unspoken grace and grief present in the room.
This is what we all do if we don’t bring our conscious attention to doing something different! We do it at school, in relationship to the earth, with each other, and with ourselves. We forget that we aren’t entitled to any of it. We forget that the air we breathe and the rain that falls and the green that grows and the food we eat and the people we love and the health we enjoy aren’t a forever thing. We forget to say thank you. We forget that every day we wake up is a gift and it is filled with abundance, filled with the grace and grief of being alive. We just have to begin paying attention, break the habit of unconscious consumption and begin saying thank you – silently, out loud, shouted from the rooftops of your home town, to each other, with each step we take and every breath that is ours…Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Do it today, do it right now – turn to someone and say thank you, just because.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Take the time when you are home to do something different, to go against the tide of habits and traditions. Take the time to ask others to join you in leading with appreciation and gratitude – see your cup half full rather than half empty. Turn your complaints into requests and remember to lead with gratitude – this life you are living is not a given, it is a gift.