Around the time of the last harvest of the year, various cultures around the world share celebrations of bounty and thanks. We find ways of gathering together--bringing evidence of our energetic growth in nature and the annual warmth of friendship. We call it “thanksgiving” for a purpose, as it serves to embody our intention of offering a bit of ourselves in gratitude for everything, good and bad, that we consider as our blessings.
This time of year also serves to highlight a few very important pieces of our humanity that comprise our physical and spiritual unity. Many of us may not have much of an opportunity to look at exactly how these gestures of gratitude impact our life. We can certainly feel when they are missing.
How many of these are evident to you as you walk along your road?
We have our bounty of the many natural plants that have grown in the warmth of the sun. As that sun moves further away and the chillier weather sets in, we start to think of ways to extend our involvement or attachment to those plants. Once harvested, we know to store those natural gifts in ways that will serve our loved ones and us later.
We share our bounty with others close to us. What is often “too much” for one family may help loved ones who can use it. It is time for soups and stews, for canning and dehydrating, or for freezing every bit of nature’s goodness that we can. We appreciate all that grows, giving its life force to help sustain us. We may get together with family and friends to swap ingredients or recipes.
Even if we have not grown our own supply of food, we make plans to stock up at the grocery store. We compile special holiday lists and start planning the family’s meal. We invite relatives and friends over, often working together as a team to make the celebration an appreciably warm and inclusive event.
We clean and decorate, using the colors of the season to show how much we admire the tones of warmth, too. The browns, reds, and golds of fall are abundant, so we bring the outdoors in to enjoy before they are covered in snow and ice.
The foods we prepare are often more than just the tidbits of summertime, too. Many containers, full of hearty broths and gravies, serve to warm us from the inside. Breads, pies, cakes, and other treats are much-anticipated start to the longer holiday season to come.
Candlelight shines upon the gathering and the meal, serving to add extra light once the twilight of fall arrives. It adds a special glow to the festivities, and dispels the shadows that we might feel creeping in. Our gathering feels especially gratifying, when we see how much everyone enjoys being together.
In addition to the people and bounty in our life, for what else might we be grateful? The season alone is an indicator that we can be grateful for change. The time of expression and growth gives way to a time of reflection and closeness.
Those of us who sweat through the sweltering sun of summer may be grateful for the significantly cooler temperatures, or for the chance to go outdoors wearing layers of clothes--maybe feeling a little less vulnerable than we do in skimpier attire. We may give up picnics in the park with insects for the warmth of fire in our hearth, with a bit of thanks.
We can also be grateful for the opportunity to do a bit of soul searching this time of the year. Before things get too chilly to venture out for long periods, we might be grateful for exercising our bodies and minds in ways that can help keep us mentally and physically sharp in the months ahead. Pass the rake!
We might start a creative project or craft, plan a better way to grow our garden next year, and work on ways to recycle and reuse things sitting around our home. We can say a prayer of thanks to those special people who took the time to teach us how to do, create, and apply our personal energies. Might we mindfully offer some of our skills to others who can use them? We can be grateful for having a comfortable home or a skill that is such an important part of our life.
As we sit in silence, drop to our knees, hold hands, or raise our arms in gratitude for the abundance we have, compassion asks that we think of others and be grateful on their behalf as well. Many people do not have a voice and cannot find the right words to express their own gratitude. Being thankful ourselves with grateful gestures goes a long way as our energies extend from us, out into this world and beyond.
Namaste ~ Blessings!