Come, ye thankful people come, raise a song of harvest home:
fruit and crops are gathered in, safe before the storms begin.
Earth, our Mother, will provide for our needs to be supplied;
come to her own table come, raise the song of harvest home.

I’m so glad the season of Thanksgiving is upon us!  In a world that seems to try my soul on a daily basis I’m sometimes tempted to turn inward, to protect myself.  Our Thanksgiving celebrations often get relegated to the privacy of our homes and the intimacy of family and close friends.  But the truth is, the bounty we receive comes from far beyond our own hearth, home, and family. We’re all part of webs of relationships that hold us — including our relationship with the Earth and her bounty that sustains us.

In Diana Butler Bass’ book, simply called Grateful, she makes the distinction between “me” gratitude and “we” gratitude.

“Me” gratitude is part of an exchange between individuals. Someone helps you or gives you a gift and you say thank you in return for that gift.  It’s a closed loop between giver and receiver.

“We” gratitude draws the circle wide.  Life is a gift. Each new day is a gift.  Thich Nhat Hanh says,

Waking up this morning, I see the blue sky
I join my hands in thanks for the many wonders of life;
for having twenty-four brand new hours.
The sun is rising on the forest
and so is my awareness.

Our very being is dependent on the gifts we receive from the interconnected web of life.  “We” gratitude acknowledges the fact that gifts abound — they are everywhere. We all rely on the web of life and each other in more ways than we can possibly know.

Diana Butler Bass writes,

In an open cycle of gratitude, gifts are not commodities.  Gifts are the nature of the universe itself. Gifts are part of the natural order.  Grace reminds us that every good thing is a gift — that somehow the rising of the sun and being alive are indiscriminate daily offerings to us… All that we have was gifted to all of us.

We don’t really give gifts, we receive them, and we pass them on.  We all rely on these gifts.  We all share them.

This is not a closed circle of exchange; it is more like the circles that ripple across a pond when pebbles are tossed into the water.  Everything is a gift. 

As we explore the gifts of legacy and promise this month — the ripples we’ve receive from those who have gone before us and what we hope to pass on — may we be reminded of the gifts that connect us to each other and the Earth — and be glad.

Faithfully Yours,

Rev. Carol

Read previous monthly messages from Rev. Carol