Thanksgiving is a celebration of abundance. It is a time to give thanks for the harvest just brought in, the work of a whole year coming to fruition as we enter the holiday season. As winter arrives, we gather around the table with family and friends. We rejoice together in the warmth of our radiant homes.
It is no coincidence that the Thanksgiving holiday comes at this time. As the daylight is growing dimmer and shorter each day, our hearts are drawn to that which is most dear to us. Gathered together in our warm and well-lit homes, we prepare for months of dark and cold. Surrounded by the abundance of harvest, we prepare ourselves for leaner times to come.
Now, just as we have everything, we have come to the season of letting go.
Winter is coming. It’s a time of renunciation. A period when precious things will be taken away. The table will be empty, the house will grow cold. Life will change in ways that we can’t foresee now, and that we wouldn’t welcome even if we could.
The joy of Thanksgiving is best experienced in the knowledge that winter is coming. The reality of loss and limits, of emptiness and pain, frames the joy and fullness that we experience now. The present moment is brought into focus in light of the truth: This too shall pass.
To give thanks, we must let go.
Real gratitude doesn’t cling to food, or wealth, or status, or even to life itself. There’s true joy to be found in the pleasures of our lives, but only when we renounce our ownership of them. This present moment is alive and special precisely because it only lasts for a short time.
What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving? Who are the people, places, and things that bring you joy? What would it mean for you to hold them lightly, in the knowledge that nothing really belongs to you?
What are the possibilities that come with winter? What beautiful things might need to be cleared away in order to make space for the next chapter in your walk with God? Could even this life as a whole be a moment that is passing away, yielding itself to even deeper love and peace?
Why Quakers Should Celebrate Thanksgiving