The essence of Thanksgiving…


Gratitude is not a passive response to something given to us, gratitude is being awake in the presence of everything that lives within and without us. Gratitude is not something that is shown after the event, it is the deep, a priori state of attention that shows we understand and are equal to the gifted nature of life.

Gratitude is the understanding that many millions of things come together and live together and mesh together and breathe together in order for us to take even one more breath of air, that the underlying gift of life and incarnation as a living, participating human being is privilege, that we are part of something, rather than nothing. Even if that something is temporarily pain or despair, we inhabit a living world, with real faces, real voices, laughter, the color blue, the green of the fields, the freshness of a cold wind, or the tawny hue of a winter landscape.

To see the full miraculous essentiality of the color blue is to be grateful with no necessity for a word of thanks. To see fully, the beauty of a daughter’s face is to be fully grateful without having to seek a God to thank him. To sit among friends and strangers, hearing many voices, strange opinions; to intuit inner lives beneath surface lives, to inhabit many worlds at once in this world, to be a someone amongst all other someones, and therefore to make a conversation without saying a word, is to deepen our sense of presence and therefore our natural sense of thankfulness that everything happens both with us and without us, that we are participants and witness all at once.

Thankfulness finds its full measure in generosity of presence, both through participation and witness. We sit at the table part of every other person’s world while making our own world without will or effort, this is what is extraordinary and gifted, this is the essence of gratefulness, seeing to the heart of privilege.

Thanksgiving happens when our sense of presence meets all other presences. Being unappreciative means we are simply not paying attention.

David Whyte, 2013


8 thoughts on “The essence of Thanksgiving…

  1. First, I love that your Canadian Thanksgiving day is in the midst of gorgeous Autumn colors…like having snow at Christmas. Lovely writing…and lovely images. I’m especially drawn to the family around the table. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Sherry, thanks for evoking gratitude and thanksgiving through your images and the thoughtful words from David Whyte. You always choose just the right combination to make me pause, reflect, and connect with a deeper truth.

  3. Such beautiful words and your images illustrate them beautifully!! Gratitude should come easy for each one of us, but sometimes we fail, thank you for this lovely reminder.

  4. I knew in the second paragraph that that was David Whyte. He is fantastic. I heard him speak and read in the town of Newburyport here. But accent and dress just makes one swoon. He was perfect for your deep feelings of family and life in general. Living in gratitude is living in each moment. Bi see you choosing to live that way.

    The gathering around your table I’m sure was full of Thanksgiving and love of both family and food. The gift of your beautiful photography and friendship is what I’m grateful for.

  5. Beautiful! And a perfect way to remember the lovely day you had. Yes, gratitude is definitely an active practice, sometimes finding words, sometimes not. Happy Thanksgiving, Sherry!

  6. What wonderful words and your images surely capture the essence of autumn and make me thankful for all the extraordinary beauty you bring to us, Sherry.

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