Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Flow of Thanks

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone. For most of us, the holiday brought more than enough food, with leftovers perhaps still tumbling from the fridge.

As we sat down last Thursday to a table crowded with delectable fare, we might have paused for a few moments to appreciate and give thanks for all that we have. But Thanksgiving needn’t be merely a day set aside for gratitude. It can be a day set aside to remind us to be grateful always. A day to practice gratitude.

Everywhere we look, reasons for thankfulness abound. Indeed, our very existence rests upon the offerings of others. At the most basic level, a variety of life forms sustains us. Whether eating turkey or sweet potato, wild rice or pumpkin pie, cranberry or crescent roll, we absorb the vitality housed in these edibles and use that essence to fuel our own bodies and extend ourselves into the world.

We carry provisions into our kitchens in sacks of cloth, paper or plastic. Then, often using the remains of ancient living beings suspended as fossil fuel, we cook those raw ingredients, transforming them further with a sampling of spices and herbs gathered from around the world.

But the gifts~~and the sacrifices~~begin long before our kitchen preparations. Animals are bred, raised, and slaughtered, often in unsanitary and inhumane conditions, to provide us ready protein. Farm workers toil long hours, with pay frequently insufficient to purchase the very food they grow. Drivers bring trucks full of bounty into our neighborhoods, while store owners, shelf stockers and cashiers allow us to exchange cash for food.

And, then, we cook, and we eat. We quite literally ingest life. The sheer number of beings represented in a typical Thanksgiving meal~~or within a simple bowl of rice and beans, for that matter~~is beyond comprehension. An outpouring of deeply~felt gratitude with every meal seems the only appropriate response to this reality.

For gratitude to be truly authentic, however, it must be enacted. We must use the energy received from our food in a manner worthy of the gift we know it to be.

This living is a grand relay event. We receive from others, and we pass that energy forward through each thought and every action we undertake. We get to choose, though, the shape of the baton we hand off to the next fellow.

Will we use this gift of life energy to speak harshly to someone, or will we choose words that soothe and encourage? Will we fritter ourselves away in mindless activities, or consciously open to that which is good, to that which is God, and allow that Essence to pass through us to another?

A framed quote from A Course In Miracles hangs on my friend’s wall. “What if the only voice you listened to was the voice of love?” If we did listen only to that voice, we would recognize and open to the love streaming toward us in each moment, unfooled by its various guises. We would then recycle that love, transforming it in our own unique way before passing it on to the next participant in this magnificent relay.

Our days offer gifts aplenty. We can receive these gifts with a thankful heart, and with that same gratitude, we can give them away again. And again. And yet again.

Thanksgiving every day. Give thanks and, with thanks, give.

And a heart~felt thank you to everyone who reads these words I write. You are a gift to me!

Loanne Marie

PS. For other Thanksgiving thoughts, here's a previous post, Of Lotuses and Muddy Water.


Anonymous said...

While the food was plentiful, the best part of Thanksgiving or any day is the family and friends we share this life with. This would include you!

Gayle said...

Hey Loanne,

As usual, a voice from the wilderness I needed to hear. I thank God for you and your thoughts, I thank the Chieftain because it publishes 'alternative' ideas.

I always look forward to your columns and now I also look forward to all the comments these nice people out there post to this blog.

Very enlightening. Thanks Loanne and thanks to all you 'posters'.

Loanne Marie said...

I, too, love it when folks add their comments here. It seems an enactment of that great relay idea I mentioned~~folks pass ideas/energy/stories to me, I pass them to you, you post here and pass them to me and to others. Ripples all, though now I'm mixing metaphors! Relays, ripples in a pond, enlightening or filling with light~~different metaphors reflecting the same essential truth. We are here for one another, to touch, to inspire, and to be dear companions on the Way.

And Anonymous, what a treat to have a place among your family and friends!

Thanks to you both for writing.

Claire said...

....And being a "foodie," a term I only learned since working at Whole Foods Market, I so very much love and appreciated the web of life you describe in regards to food, not simply from farm and garden to plate, but also including the soil life and even the containers we use to carry the food (and the ones we cook in and eat off from, too). That holistic approach expands my appreciative awareness to new levels. Thank you, Loanne, for bringing these real-eyes-ations to my attention.

Loanne Marie said...

It is a web, isn't it? And as Chief Seattle reminds us, "Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it." Here is a place where the idea of continuity is so very important, because strands come our way but they also stretch beyond us, carrying with them the portion we add. What will we add today? 

We, too, are weavers. We can demonstrate our appreciation of the varied threads that come our way~~to form us, to sustain us~~by weaving our portion with wisdom and intention, in a way worthy of the beauty of the whole net. Thank you, Claire, for writing.

Anonymous said...

I loved your article in the newspaper, especially the ending! My gift to my family was peace : The ones who chose to spend it with other people, other ways I wished them well, the ones we spent it with me I enjoyed the moment, with no criticisms. Everyone all around had a good time- most of all the peace I gave also left me with a peaceful heart ( previous years I wished we could all be together in bodies, this year we were all together in spirit. It is true about the riple effect- we fight so hard to hang on- when it is a lot easier to let go once we realize it. I am looking forward to Christmas- to see what other "gifts" I can give for I have received many!

Loanne Marie said...

Sounds like it was a wonderful holiday~~with many others to come! Peace cometh in and peace goeth forth? Yes! And you add an important facet to this idea~~as we consciously weave our threads of love (by whatever name), these go out, but they also move deeper inside us. We are transformed by the very act, so that love moves in all directions at once. But of course! Ours is not a linear world/universe, is it? Simultaneous effects.

Thanks so much for writing!

monica wood said...

We had a beautiful Thanksgiving day, and I felt so grateful that this year was a "good" year, i.e., one in which everyone was healthy and in good spirits. It is not always so, and therefore I try to pay special attention to those sweet times--not because I expect impending doom, but because it's so easy to overlook the ordinary goods of life.

Loanne Marie said...

It is, indeed, easy to "overlook the ordinary goods of life". I'm glad your Thanksgiving was filled to the brim, a very cornucopia of ordinary goods. And when we look closely at the ordinary, they really do become EXTRAordinary, don't they? Extraordinary that all those molecules and life events led to such a Thanksgiving day.

Thanks for writing!

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Leia Marie