The best thing about remembering to give thanks – even in a formalized way through a national holiday (even one based on falsely concocted national myths) – is that it encourages many of us to shift our attention from our personal sorrows, fears, and desires to a bigger picture.
It helps us shift our lens from our mind to our heart, from the eyes of calculation for what we can get, to the eyes of appreciation for all we already receive.
For some it is e a time of appreciating those closest to us. For others it may go further to include thanks for the simple amenities of life we take for granted – hot water, safe housing, enough food. For others the appreciation may extend further, to the bounty of the Earth that is the support of all life, despite how we abuse her. And for some it may go even further, to Existence itself, the very miracle of Being that brings us all into this moment of experience – whether that moment is pleasurable or not.
For the truth is that every moment is an out-breath of something we cannot fathom, a mystery greater than we normally even pause to consider.
Is it appropriate to thank that which breathes us into existence – we and the entire universe? Are thanks in order? Or is it something more like humility and awe?
Can we stop our mental calculations long enough to look up to witness such a bigger view?
And what purpose does that serve?
I believe humanity is moving in a direction of inclusivity, away from the ground rules of separation that have caused so much chaos and suffering for so long.
The impulse to remember what we are grateful for is a moment of inclusivity in larger and larger circles of connection. It is a moment of recognizing our interdependence, and that the ultimate reality we are part of is totally out of our hands – and yet is a blessing.
The impulse to give thanks helps us to remember that self-reliance (the great myth of our culture) is a delusion, and that we are all co-participants and co-creators in a great dance so vast we cannot see its pattern or its edges.
We do not know how the steps of our lives contribute to the pattern of the dance – because we cannot see the big picture and we’ve been given no rules to follow.
But I am sure that every step you take and every step I take in our seemingly separate lives, and every occurrence on this and all worlds, are all part of that dance, whose beauty and meaning are continually emerging in patterns we cannot comprehend.
And I trust that some great Eye is witnessing it all and giving thanks.