Thanksgiving, what does it mean to you. Giving thanks, how do you do it?
In at least some Jewish traditions, it is held you should give thanks 100 times a day. Sounds like a lot, doesnít it? Sounds like an impossible tradition to follow, a drag. But consider some examples of thanks given by a Jewish person, especially the next time youíre down, depressed.
When theyíre eyes first open, they give thanks for waking up to another day of life. Another chance to do good, to cause change. When theyíre eyes open all the way, and sleep is rubbed out, they give thanks for the ability to see. A chance to regard beauty, hopefully some of which you cause. When they first raise their body up, they give thanks for the gift of movement. The ability to use your arms to hug a needy person, your legs to help an elderly person carry some groceries.
When they first put their legs on the ground, they give thanks for the ground. Earth strong enough to support us, support our houses, our roads, yet possessing of the attributes to cause trees, crops, life to spring forth. Adam comes from adamah, or Earth in the Hebrew. We, in the Christian or Jewish tradition (or any other of the multitude of faiths and beliefs) sprang forth from Earth, and we go back to Earth. We are sustained, given life, by dirt and dust. Quite a thing to give thanks for.
When they first go to the bathroom, we give thanks for our bodies. We are made up of so many vessels and tubes, any which would cause us to die if they were blocked or malfunctioned. Yet everything works, we can go to the bathroom, eat, drink, make food for others, cry for ourselves or others. I give thanks I can type this and you can read this. I give thanks my stomach can handle so many of the foods and drink I love. And I cry because so many donít have food and drink to fill their stomachs.
And before a Jewish person eats breakfast, they give thanks for food and drink, for all that sustains their bodies, helps them grow, gives them strength to do what needs doing.
These are just a few examples of thanks, a minor part of all we are given, all we have in our lives. Much of which we take for granted when we complain we donít have as much as the next person. 100 times a day of giving thanks, thatís one meaning of Thanksgiving.
The second meaning is a reverse of this, a logical carryover. We give thanks not only for what we have (which is bountiful), but what we can give. When we gave thanks for our sight, we must give our thanks we can help those without sight. When we give our thanks for our bodies, we must give thanks we can help those cripples, the elderly, whoís bodies cannot do so much needing doing. When we eat, we must give thanks we have plenty. We must remember those with nothing, those who cry themselves at night with hunger, those malnourished children.
We must give thanks that all we give, we get back a thousand fold. A farmer planting a seed might seem to be throwing the seed away. Itís a tiny thing afterall, lost in the soil. But it, Praise to God, springs forth grown, to sustain, build us. When we give, when we forgive, when we open our lives up to the needy and the hurting and the weak, we might seem to be giving a small seed, lost in the dirt. There are so many hurting in the world, what can we do? But Iíve seen so many great people, people who devote their lives to helping others, that themselves started as the weak and hurting. They were helped, lifted up, and give thanks every day for that second chance by providing second chances to other people.
A seed planted, just a small part of what you have, can spring forth and create beauty, can ease hunger and tears.
And we should give thanks we can provide that seed. No matter your talent, no matter how small, give of that talent. Whether you have money, or song, or can create food, or can give a drawing of a faraway place that will create wonder in a kid with nothing, use that talent. Plant that seed. If an angry person hurts you, forgive them and show them how to love. Something so many people in todayís world donít know about.
Thanksgiving is a two part thing. Giving thanks each day, each hour of the day, for all we have, with all our hearts and our voices. And, because we have so much, giving thanks we can give a little to help others without.
Enjoy your food this Thanksgiving. Donít feel guilty you have so much, and give thanks for it. But also take this opportunity to give just a small part of that out, and give thanks for that. Then, then youíll be whole. Then your soul will cry out with joy for the wonderful opportunity youíve been provided.
Prayer of Saint Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life
Imagine no possessions I wonder if you can No need for greed or hunger A brotherhood of man Imagine all the people Sharing all the world
You may say that I'm a dreamer But I'm not the only one I hope someday you'll join us And the world will live as one