(If you do not have a Thanksgiving Day Prayer, you are invited to read aloud the following poem of Mary Oliver followed by the short reflection that follows. Your own prayer may unfold from just the reading or anything else that happens next. We offer this from UUCG with grateful hearts)
by Mary Oliver
It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
Our meals today don’t have to come out of grandly appointed and well stocked kitchens. They could come from the kitchen of a restaurant. They could come from a few cans heated over a hot plate. They could come from the assembly line kitchens of an institution: a hospital, a prison, a homeless shelter, a detention center, a 24/7 factory.
Just pay attention. This is not a contest. It is a doorway, if we want it to be, and our world has never needed this doorway more than it does now. It’s a doorway into thanks, into gratitude. Can we look up from the hurt and pain, the distrust and deception, the isolation and disorientation of our times and find something for which to be grateful?
Just pay attention for a moment. The words will come. They will be followed by a silence. Perhaps another voice will speak. Perhaps we will find our own, common, singular voice of humanity in that other voice as it responds to our simple prayer: Thanks.