Thursday, November 26, 2009

A LITANY OF THANKSGIVING

African-American Quaker pastor Howard Thurman's Thanksgiving Day reflection speaks for me

Today, I make my Sacrament of Thanksgiving.
I begin with the simple things of my days:
Fresh air to breath,
Cool water to drink,
The taste of food,
The protection of houses and clothes,
The comforts of home.
For these, I make an act of Thanksgiving this day!

I bring to mind all the warmth of humankind that I have known:
My mother’s arms,
The strength of my father,
The playmates of my childhood,
The wonderful stories brought to me from the
lives of many who talked of days gone by
when fairies and giants and all kinds of
magic held sway;
The tears I have shed, the tears I have seen;
The excitement of laughter and the twinkle
in the eye with its reminder that life is good.
For all these I make an act of Thanksgiving this day.

I finger one of the messages of hope that
awaited me at the crossroads:
The smile of approval from those who held in their hands
the reins of my security;
The tightening of the grip in a single handshake
when I feared the step before me in the darkness;
The whisper in my heart when the temptation was fiercest
and the claims of appetite were not to be denied;
The crucial word said,
the simple sentence from an open page
when my decision hung in the balance.
For all these I make an act of Thanksgiving this day.

I pass before me the mainsprings of my heritage:
The fruits of the labors of countless generations
who lived before me, without whom my own life
would have no meaning;
The seers who saw visions and dreamed dreams;
The prophets who sense a truth greater than the mind
could grasp and whose words could only find fulfillment
in the years which they would never see;
The workers whose sweat has watered the trees,
the leaves of which are for the healing of the nations;
The pilgrims who set their sails for lands beyond all horizons,
whose courage made paths into new worlds and far-off places;
The Savior whose blood was shed with a recklessness
that only a dream could inspire and God could command.
For all this I make an act of Thanksgiving this day.

I linger over the meanings of my own life and the commitment
to which I give the loyalty of my heart and mind:
The little purposes in which I have shared with my loves,
my desires, my gifts;
The restlessness which bottoms all I do with its stark insistence
that I have never done my best, I have never reached for the highest;
The big hope that never quite deserts me, that I and my kind
will study war no more, that love and tenderness and all the
inner graces of Almighty affection will cover the life of
the children of God as the waters cover the sea.
All these and more than mind can think and heart can feel,
I make as my Sacrament of Thanksgiving to Thee, Our Father,
in humbleness of mind and simplicity of heart.

From For the Inward Journey, selected writings by Howard Thurman, 1984, Richmond, Indiana: Friends United Press

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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing these beautiful words to encourage the remembrance and reason for the celebration.

    ReplyDelete

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