Today we have gathered and when we look upon the faces around us we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now let us bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as People. Now our minds are one.
We are thankful to our Mother the Earth, for she gives us everything that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she will continue to care for us, just as she has from the beginning of time. To our Mother, we send thanksgiving, love, and respect. Now our minds are one.
—The opening paragraphs of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address, known more accurately in the Onondaga language as the Words That Come Before All Else. The actual wording of the Thanksgiving Address varies with the speaker. This text is the widely publicized version of John Stokes and Kanawahientun, 1993.
Today, many people across the United States of America gather with their loved ones to offer collective gratitude. This holiday has some heartbreaking history attached to it (to say the least) and we are currently living through some heartbreaking moments. Yet somehow, today we can choose to focus on the many gifts this life offers. In particular, the MANY gifts that we have received, and continue to receive the people who were indigenous to this land long before its European ‘discovery’. We are so thankful.
This morning as I sat quietly in the woods watching leaves fall gracefully from the trees, my heart was filled with gratitude. For the bountiful gifts that this living earth offers us every single day. For all of those that came before us and paved the way for us to be here. For the accompaniment that we offer each other as human beings—through all of the joyful and difficult moments. For the gift and space to write these words. I am thankful.
That time of year is upon us… we begin to reflect back on what this year has held for us, all those tiny moments that make up a whole life. Some, have already begun to make plans for all that lies ahead. Me, I choose to relish this very moment—to let gratitude overwhelm my heart, to lean my head back in the sunshine, witnessing the trees’ transition and offering gratitude for the gift of this breath. May we all be thankful for ALL this precious life has to offer.