As a U.S. Foreign Service officer, my father was steeped in the news and events of the world – both by choice and by circumstance. Growing up, I remember the PBS News Hour, BBC, and NPR always being on, and when things would become repetitive or a lull would happen, we’d switch to the History Channel, or a good ole game of football.
He is a quiet and contemplative man, who harbors much wisdom and foresight in the hushed murmurs of his sprightly mind. When he speaks, he demonstrates a clear and careful attention to words sewn together into sentences that are painted into thoughts that often put things into sharp relief – opening up my mind to greater clarity and possibility. One of his many lessons that has carried me through my life thus far, is that, amid all the evil and sadness that plagues the world, there is still so much goodness. There is always a reason to be hopeful.
I think of those words now in light of the past few weeks… the past few months… the past few years, really. What is going on in our world? I often feel paralyzed by the multitude of issues that need addressing, wondering, “what is my role?”, “how can I help?”, “will anything I can possibly do even help at all?” I think about all the animosity, sadness, anxiety, greed, waste, and the fragility of our existence, which is under constant siege by issues of racism, sexism, religious targeting, economic injustice, environmental injustice, and the fact that hundreds of millions of people in this world are in a state of dire need. But then I sit and remind myself, there are people dedicating their lives to address these issues and needs. There are countless souls volunteering, working, praying, advocating, marching, lobbying, thinking, writing, and all other forms of action that are moving us closer to good, no matter how small the steps might seem at times.
So on this day of Thanksgiving, I remind myself of all the goodness in the world. I remind myself that hope is a right that we all have, and rightfully so. We must continue to set our sights higher, realizing the goodness that is inherent in us all so that the evil and sadness will become lesser… and lesser.
Do not be afraid, you wild animals, for the pastures in the wilderness are becoming green. The trees are bearing their fruit; the fig tree and the vine yield their riches. Joel 2: 22
Though I am far from home this Thanksgiving, I feel much gratitude for the reason I am in Vermont – my passion for food and people, and even more gratitude for the people who have lifted me up and supported me on this journey. So much goodness, so much for which to be thankful.
In gratitude for all things small and big, realizing everything and everyone are connected, I come back to a poem that is taped to my fridge and serves as a daily reminder of thanks —
I Awaken Before Dawn by Helen Moore
I awaken before dawn, go into the kitchen and fix a cup of tea.
I light the candle and sit in its glow on the meditation cushion.
Taking my cup in both hands, I lift it to my Lord and give thanks.
The feel of the cup against my palms brings the potter to mind
and I offer a blessing for his hands.
I give thanks for the clay, the glaze and the kiln.
I take a sip and follow the warmth into my body.
I offer a blessing for those who brought electricity to my home,
who dug the ditches for the lines,
who built my home and put in the wires,
who made my tea kettle and brought me water to fill it.
I take a sip and bless the people in India or China who grew the tea,
cultivated it, picked and dried the leaves, took it to market,
handled it through the many transactions to bring it to my home.
I take a sip and bless those people in Florida, California or Central America
who grew the tree that blossomed into flowers.
I give thanks for the warmth of the sun and the rain which turned the blossoms into lemons,
and I bless the hands that picked the fruit, sorted it, touched it as it traveled from the orchard to my table.
I take another sip and bless the hands of those who provided the sugar
which sweetened the tea, harvested the cane, processed it,
bagged it and sent it on its way to me.
I take another sip and lift my cup in gratitude as I feel the interconnection of my body now with theirs,
my blood now with theirs,
my bones now with theirs,
and my heart fills with love for all of creation.
I give thanks.