A Time of Thanks
I wonder if there are any farmers who are atheists? Perhaps, yet I can’t imagine anyone who works the soil and sees the abundance that the earth provides, not believing in God. Harvest time automatically results in thanks for the crops. And, of course, Americans celebrate a national day of Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November, each year, to commemorate such harvesting.
The celebration harks back to the time of much gratefulness. The pilgrim fathers and their collective families, known as the English colonists, joined together with the Wampanoag Indian people to celebrate their thankfulness. This historical forerunner event of the American Thanksgiving holiday came following a year of sickness and meagerness. Interestingly, it wasn’t a one day affair but a three-day event at Plymouth in the fall of 1621—the area we know today as Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
The first year in the New World provided a trying time for the new inhabitants—yet they celebrated their bounty. They didn’t raise their fist to God for what they endured. They chose, as was their custom, to rejoice with folded hands in prayer thanking God for what they now enjoyed. History often has its grey areas when times are debated and some historians declare that the first celebration of thanks was another date. Yet autumn of 1621 is the favored and more likely time.
What tenders my heart when I think of those early celebrations, is that they were shared times. No one was greedily stuffing themselves with food alone. For me that’s one of the ways to stay young—sharing with others of varied ages and making Thanksgiving feasts more than feasts of food but feasts of memories and experiences. Oh, the delight of such gatherings! It’s a time when you can invite total strangers to sit at your table and you will instantly feel like family. And you and they will never forget it.
As result the following poem-prayer is one I’ve written to express my gratefulness and perhaps you might like to use it too.
We thank you for a bounty,
Not only enough for us
But an abundance,
So that we may share with others.
We appreciate A sheltering roof,
The warmth of heart-love—
Where we can say,
“Come in” to others.
We ask for all our days
To be surrounded
By the others You have chosen
As our fellow wayfarers.