On this Thanksgiving Day, may we commit to a mindset of gratitude every day. I am deepy grateful for you, my reader, and lift you up in prayer today for happiness, health, and great abundance. To celebrate the holiday, I’m sharing below some varied reflections from past authors.
While the story of our country’s first Thanksgiving—one of pilgrims and Native Americans sharing a meal of thanksgiving together—is based on a true event documented in early journals, we know it belies the actual and shameful way Native Americans were treated by the New World explorers in their inexorable westward expansion. This poem of thanksgiving, translated from a traditional Iroquois prayer, expresses beautifully the Native American appreciation for the natural world. We would do well to emulate this reverence and become better stewards of the beauty around us.
Harriet Maxwell Converse, 1836-1903
Translated from a traditional Iroquois prayer
We who are here present thank the Great Spirit that we are here to praise Him.
We thank Him that He has created men and women, and ordered that these beings shall always be living to multiply the earth.
We thank Him for making the earth and giving these beings its products to live on.
We thank Him for the water that comes out of the earth and runs for our lands.
We thank Him for all the animals on the earth.
We thank Him for certain timbers that grow and have fluids coming from them for us all.
We thank Him for the branches of the trees that grow shadows for our shelter.
We thank Him for the beings that come from the west, the thunder and lightning that water the earth.
We thank Him for the light which we call our oldest brother, the sun that works for our good.
We thank Him for all the fruits that grow on the trees and vines.
We thank Him for his goodness in making the forests, and thank all its trees.
We thank Him for the darkness that gives us rest, and for the kind Being of the darkness that gives us light, the moon.
We thank Him for the bright spots in the skies that give us signs, the stars.
We give Him thanks for our supporters, who had charge of our harvests.
We give thanks that the voice of the Great Spirit can still be heard through the words of Ga-ne-o-di-o.
We thank the Great Spirit that we have the privilege of this pleasant occasion.
We give thanks for the persons who can sing the Great Spirit’s music, and hope they will be privileged to continue in his faith.
We thank the Great Spirit for all the persons who perform the ceremonies on this occasion.
The poem above is in the public domain.
Harriet Maxwell Converse, who was the first white woman elected as a Six Nations Chief, was the author of Sheaves: A Collection of Poems (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1882).
Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 1850 – 1919
We walk on starry fields of white
And do not see the daisies;
For blessings common in our sight
We rarely offer praises.
We sigh for some supreme delight
To crown our lives with splendor,
And quite ignore our daily store
Of pleasures sweet and tender.
Our cares are bold and push their way
Upon our thought and feeling.
They hand about us all the day,
Our time from pleasure stealing.
So unobtrusive many a joy
We pass by and forget it,
But worry strives to own our lives,
And conquers if we let it.
There’s not a day in all the year
But holds some hidden pleasure,
And looking back, joys oft appear
To brim the past’s wide measure.
But blessings are like friends, I hold,
Who love and labor near us.
We ought to raise our notes of praise
While living hearts can hear us.
Full many a blessing wears the guise
Of worry or of trouble;
Far-seeing is the soul, and wise,
Who knows the mask is double.
But he who has the faith and strength
To thank his God for sorrow
Has found a joy without alloy
To gladden every morrow.
We ought to make the moments notes
Of happy, glad Thanksgiving;
The hours and days a silent phrase
Of music we are living.
And so the theme should swell and grow
As weeks and months pass o’er us,
And rise sublime at this good time,
A grand Thanksgiving chorus.
The poem above is in the public domain.
Ella Wheeler Wilcox was born in 1850 in Johnstown Center, Wisconsin. Her poetry collections include Poems of Passion (W. B. Conkey Company, 1883) and Poems of Peace (Gay & Bird, 1906).
We give thanks to thee, O God; we give thanks;
we call on thy name and recount thy wondrous deeds.
Psalm 75:1 (Revised Standard Version)
The Collect for Thanksgiving
Almighty and gracious Father, we give you thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us, we pray, faithful stewards of your great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Gratitude and thanksgiving are recurring themes in my writing about the Heartspoken Life. For more related posts, CLICK HERE.
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