"Our hands imbibe like roots, so I place them on what is beautiful in this world. And I fold them in prayer, and they draw from the heavens, light."
St. Francis of Assisi
"Look, I am living. On what? Neither childhood nor future grows any smaller.............Superabundant being wells up in my heart."
Rainier Maria Rilke
"How marvelous is that garden, where apples and pears
are arriving even in winter. Those apples grow from the Gift, and sink back into the Gift. It must be that they are coming from the garden to the garden."
I reflect today on how amazing and abundant and privileged is my life. I've never known hunger. I can eat anything I want, whenever I want, including apples that come from New Zealand, mangoes from the Caribbean, and almonds from Morocco, should I chose. If I'm cold, I can press a button and get warm, or I can turn a lever and immerse myself in hot water.
At my fingertips is the greatest Library the world has ever known, and I can research any question (with some discernment) merely by typing in the question. I can board a plane that goes faster than any bird, and surpasses even the farthest reaches of Leonarda Da Vinci's fruitful imagination.........and within a day or so, be in London, Sydney, or Borneo.
I've lived with so much possibility, so much luxury. Everytime I walk into a Super Market, I have to reflect that what most people take for granted........is, and was, beyond the wildest dreams of virtually all human beings less than a hundred years ago. No Phaoroah ever had such comfort as I, and no Queen could travel like me, eat like me, even be as comfortable as me. And tragically, my lifestyle is still beyond the means of most human beings living now, those who must live homeless in the streets of Mumbai, or war torn deserts in Somalia, or the slums of Brazil, or huddled in sleeping bags in parks in downtown Tucson. And the wealth I enjoy comes, as Kalil Gibran tells us, from the continual sacrifice of many other lives on this great Life that is our planet, our Gaia.
I am among the wealthiest, most privileged generation that has ever lived upon this beautiful, generous Mother Earth.
And I reflect that generations coming after me will not enjoy my freedom, prosperity, or possibility, because the time I live in has taken too much. Gratitude, Thanks Giving, is so much more than a holiday, a single "holy day". Gratitude, it seems to me, is a way of life, a state of mind upon which to found a culture that might be sustainable. I'm not the first person to say this - this wisdom is found in many, many places and times, among the Lakota giving thanks to the Buffalo, the Sami living with their reindeer, the Quakers sitting in silence in their Meeting Halls. This understanding of the importance of Gratitude, of Reciprocity, is what we must universally regain, in our bones, in our roots, in our empathy.
Let it begin today, and all days, the profound re-birth of Thanks Giving.
Then an old man, a keeper of an inn, said: "Speak to us of Eating and Drinking."
And the Prophet said: "Would that you could live on the fragrance of the earth, and like an air plant be sustained by the light. But since you must kill to eat, and rob the newly born of its mother's milk to quench your thirst, let it then be an act of worship.And let your board stand an altar on which the pure and the innocent of forest and plain are sacrificed for that which is purer and still more innocent in man.When you kill a beast say to him in your heart:
"By the same power that slays you, I too am slain; and I too shall be consumed. For the law that delivered you into my hand shall deliver me into a mightier hand." And when you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart, "Your seeds shall live in my body,And the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart. And your fragrance shall be my breath. And together we shall rejoice through all the seasons."
And in the autumn, when you gather the grapes of your vineyard, and fruit shall be gathered for the wine press, say: "And like new wine I shall be kept in eternal vessels." And in winter, when you draw the wine, let there be in your heart a song for each cup; let there be in the song a remembrance for the autumn days, and for the vineyard, and for the wine press."