A Thanksgiving Way of Living

“Gratitude creates a sense of abundance, the knowing that you have what you need. In that climate of sufficiency, our hunger for more abates and we take only what we need, in respect for the generosity of the giver.” – Robin Wall Kimmerer

Abundance + Gratitude = Generosity

It is wonderful to me that we celebrate Thanksgiving, a holiday that is for me and mine a day to gratefully count our blessings, by preparing and sharing a lavish feast of seasonal foods. It is a “the more the merrier” kind of a day – there is never not room enough for one more at the table.

The fact that nothing is held back on Thanksgiving Day represents not only our harvest season sense of plenty, but a faith that this abundance (or at least enough-ness) will continue throughout the winter months to come.

When you mix Thanksgiving’s abundance with the holiday’s emphasis on gratitude, a certain alchemy occurs – thankfulness morphs into generosity.

Our trust in the plentifulness of life – knowing that we have everything we need – creates a shift in our outlook. Instead of looking around the world and craving more, we look around us and feel full, sated, cared for. Rather than needy, we feel ready and able to meet the needs of others.

A sense of need crowds out a sense of gratitude

When I teach yoga philosophy (either in the unit on aparigraha / non-possessiveness or bramacarya / moderation), I tell the story of a friend who was raised one of ten children. Mealtimes in his childhood were a bit of a feeding frenzy. In the melee of elbowing his siblings to meet his own need, there was no space for gratitude for the food. There was only the certainty that there would be no seconds – he learned quickly to fill his plate to overflowing to ensure that he would not leave the table hungry.

In the first months of his marriage, his wife noticed that he never finished the heaping portions he put on his plate. When she asked him what was up with this behavior, he had a moment of clarity. His habits had not changed with his situation.

With only his wife and him at the dinner table, there was no longer a threat of scarcity. In fact, because it is so very hard to cook for two, there was always more than enough food. In a blink, his perspective reset from one of scarcity to one of abundance. Fully aware of his new “climate of sufficiency,” he no longer overfilled his plate.

Within the spaciousness of “enough,” he could slow down. He could pause to feel grateful for the food (and even to taste it). A silver lining was that there was now enough left over for generous lunches for the two of them the next day which created space in the budget that made him feel even richer.

When we feel cared for, we are better able to care for the world around us

Like my friend, we can all develop the sense of being cared for in life. Whether we credit this care to a divine higher power or to the generosity of the whole of which we are each a small part, our living will morph into thriving when it is supported by a sense of gratitude.

Christ [and all the many names for the Holy] of our Light,
with every morning
you welcome us into the world
with your lavish care
you meet our hunger and our thirst.
Give us eyes to see the feast
you have placed within these hours:
hallowed, holy,
blessed day.

-Jan Richardson

My wish for you

This Thanksgiving, and all the days that follow, I wish for you a sense of abundance that comes most beautifully from a grateful heart. I wish for you a sense of faith that you have even more than everything you need, that you have enough to share. I wish for you a deep and lasting sense of gratitude to the Giver, however you define that lifegiving force.

Much love and contentment to you.

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