Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thinksgiving: Some Thoughts Loosely Related to Thanksgiving (Part 1)

"The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank." -Dante Gabriel Rossetti, English painter & poet (1828 - 1882)

Let's start off with a Quiz question...
What percentage of the 45 million turkeys eaten this thanksgiving were conceived by artificial insemination? Any guesses? Basically, close to one hundred percent. Apparently the Broad Breasted Turkeys that we like to eat so much, have been bred for larger breasts and cannot...errr... procreate. Our favorite white meat makes it impossible for the male turkeys to, well, do it. A little food for thought while your gobbling down next week.

Moving on...
Every Thanksgiving there is an unspoken competition with the brothers and my dad. Who can consume the most food. Every year my dad wins. This man will finish three heaping plates of food without breaking a sweat and still have room for dessert. If you have never eaten competitively before, you might not know that there is something, we in the biz, like to call "Hitting The Wall." This is when your body tells your brain, you need to stop eating or else! Most sane people know to stop before reaching the wall... But, for me, if you don't at least approach the wall, thanksgiving never happened! For the past five years or so, I stand in the food line and critique my brothers' food choices. When they load up on the mashed potatoes, I tell them, "Don't underestimate the potatoes!" And every year they tell me, "You always say that." I shake my head and say things like, "Rookie move." "Amateur." To my credit they do always underestimate those potatoes. But I can't blame em.

Thanksgiving is such a funny thing. The way we give thanks to God or the cosmos or whatever is to glutton ourselves with as much food as humanly possible. (Insert lengthy social commentary here). Don't get me wrong, I love it. Can you imagine a Thanksgiving where everyone had to ration themselves to make sure there was enough to go around? There is something great about basking in an economy of abundance. It just feels good, celebratory, right.

Going Deeper...
Giving thanks is such an important spiritual discipline for me. One that I don't practice often enough. Giving thanks helps to ground me in the here and now. Helps me to be present. Helps me to experience a deep and abiding sense of gratitude. The greatest joy comes when I am surprised by gratitude the moment it happens. No expectations. Just some simple moment that I am present to and my experience and my awareness of gratitude collide. I guess this is what artists call beauty, the religious call holiness, the mystics call oneness, psychologists call wholeness. But mostly the trend is, not being aware. Not being thankful. This poem I came across really resonated with me. It seems to express a similar sentiment:

The Day Beauty Divorced Meaning
Their friends looked shocked — said not possible, said how sad. The trees carried on with their treeish lives — stately except when they shed their silly dandruff of birds. And the ocean did what oceans mostly do — suspended almost everything, dropped one small ship, or two. The day beauty divorced meaning, someone picked a flower, a fight, a flight. Someone got on a boat. A closet lost its suitcases. Someone was snowed in, someone else on. The sun went down and all it was, was night. -Leslie Harrison

Giving thanks helps me to slow down, to be aware, to be present to not take for granted the simple and profound gifts of life. It keeps me from believing the myths of... If only... Someday... If they would just... If I could... These myths are frightfully powerful to keep me away from experiencing the depths of joy or pain. These myths numb me from experiencing reality. But giving thanks, especially in the moment, helps me reconcile beauty and meaning...for the moment.

Related Posts From Brad
Food: A Tasteful Theology
Food: A Tasteful Theology (part 2)
Everything's Amazing and Nobody's Happy

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