A State of Grace
Although, Thanksgiving was originally created to celebrate an event that has been distorted by history, now, in this century, we can begin to transmute it into a true time to give thanks. Let’s look at gratitude as a state of grace.The 1999 Encarta World English Dictionary, St. Martin’s Press, defines grace as: 1. Elegance, beauty, and smoothness of form or movement; 2. Dignified, polite, and decent behavior; 3. Generosity of spirit, capacity to tolerate, accommodate, or forgive people; 4. Prayer at meal times; 5. Pleasing and admirable characteristic; 6. In Christianity infinite love, mercy, favor and good will shown humankind by God.
We can begin with gratitude for the growing and elegant movement of people around the world to save this earth and protect its beauty. Special thanks at this time should be given to our indigenous peoples who have united in opposition to the Keystone Pipeline. And special thanks should be given to The International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers and The Global Indigenous Initiative for their special efforts to preserve what is most precious on this earth by working for peace and protecting indigenous practices and values. They actively work to maintain sacred living on this planet.
Not seen or heard in our daily “news” are the millions of dignified people daily offering decent behavior to help victims of violence, to care for people burdened by disease, to do the unending, unrecognized work of peace building.
We can also be grateful not only for our individual capacity to tolerate people who are different from us, to bear unfavorable or uncomfortable conditions, and to forgive people and nations for wrongs. Our actions of generosity, sharing the kind word, the helpful hand, the compassionate conversation deserve our gratitude too.
Every meal we eat should begin with at least the thought of gratitude, not only for the food, but also for the hard working, underpaid people who are responsible for growing, harvesting, and getting the food to us. Many of us, not only in the USA, but around the world can be grateful for our sources of food and water. This gratitude should be expressed by our continuous efforts to protect the environment, to assure our soil and water are not contaminated with chemicals from oil exploration and corporate insecticides and herbicides. We can also work to change the economic system that causes food scarcities when we actually, now, have more than enough food on this earth to feed every single person.
We can be grateful for all of the people we know who embody grace in their lives through their actions, their words, and their work with pleasing and admirable characteristics. We appreciate these people, from the kind nursing assistant, doing the caring no one else wants to do, to the always smiling and patient bus driver, to the dedicated and patient teacher. The people who do the daily hard work and seldom receive a thank you. We should remember to be the ones to say, “Thanks, I appreciate your pleasant service.”
Finally, the concept of grace as infinite love, mercy, favor, and good will bestowed by a sacred source, is not limited to Christianity, grace is part of Judaism and Islam. In Buddhism, grace manifests as the blessings of bodhichitta, the compassionate wish to realize enlightenment for all beings not just oneself. This idea of sacred blessings bestowed by a source of benevolent compassion is found all over the world, in all traditions, religions, and even in secular society. Kindness, compassion, and good will are our innate sacred qualities that can be shared without the need of a religious doctrine.
So, as we gather around the Thanksgiving table with friends and family make this a gathering of grace. Let our heartfelt thanks transform this from a day of unbridled over indulgence into a thoughtful day of gratitude for our abundance and our responsibility to protect and share it with all.