The markets are overflowing with the produce of the fields and trees. And the trees bursting into colour is nature’s grand farewell to this effusive season of growth.
Many will gather in our churches, festooned with autumn’s glory, to give thanks that seed-time and harvest have again fulfilled their promise.
And yet… And yet, thanksgiving does not come easy. Hurricanes, fires and earthquakes have wreaked their havoc. Thousands have seen their homes and lives shattered, and help often arrives all too slowly. Is it climate change? Is earth, as a living organism, rising up against our rape and destruction of what she offers?
We seem to forget that we are of the earth. We are one with the earth and all her creatures. What we do to the earth we do to ourselves. If we pollute the earth we walk on, the air we breathe and the water we drink, we pollute our own bodies. (And our local cement plant is about to burn tires if we can’t convince our bone-headed government that what we proved 10 years ago is still true.)
The daily news brings us unending accounts of our inhumanity. There seems to be a dearth of the basic morality that holds the earth and one another sacred. Greed and power hold sway, and individuals and whole societies are held hostage.
Wars, genocide and famine assure that the three horses of the apocalypse – war, disease and death – diminish or end the lives of millions. And when you have two alpha males thumping their chests, with nuclear weapons in their back pocket, the whole world holds its breath.
However, life has always been hewed out of the muck and mire of history. There may have been some more peaceful times when the feminine formed the dominant ethos, but certainly for the past 5,000 years there have been few times where peace reigned.
Civilization has emerged in the midst of war and devastation. Read the Bible, or most any sacred story, and you find that human values have been named in the midst of violence and destruction. It has been a slow and hard journey, but when we pause and think about it, we are overcome with thankfulness for the prophets and powers that brought forth the good in the human soul.
Then we have our own personal griefs and problems. For Emily and me it has been a dark summer, losing a son and several friends, some of long standing. We have alone times – Emily goes out on the lake in her kayak, and meditates there. We carry on with our Good Times Fiddlers and our Seekers Group. These are caring people who nourish us. And many friends near and far surround us with love and caring. Our appreciation and thanks know no bounds.
Life is an ever flowing stream. Life is always a matter of saying farewell – to people, to places, to work, to stages in life – and moving on. Many who have been a part of our lives and have helped us be who we are no longer are with us. Some have died. Some have moved away. We grieve them, but we give thanks for what they have given us.
With Alfred Lord Tennyson we can say “I am a part of all that I have met” and all that I have met are part of me. And with John Donne we can affirm, with slight modernizing, that “No (one) is an island entire of itself; every (one) is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”
We are all a part of this great adventure of the Universe that has evolved the earth and life and ourselves as aware and knowing creatures. For a brief time we take our place in this wondrous process that is pushing us toward life. Even though it has a dark side, to be alive, to walk on the earth, to join with others on this marvelous journey, is a gift beyond all gifts.
Take the time to pause and feel your thankfulness for all that has been, that is, and will be.