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Thoughts on Thanksgiving

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Rabbi Michael Lerner
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I want to share with you a Thanksgiving meditation. I invite you to use it and share it with others as a prayer, a meditation or simply a stimulus to discussion at your Thanksgiving table. Or to take a private moment to reflect on these ideas. Or use this as a stimulus to write your own version, deleting whatever part doesn't work for you and adding whatever is more appropriate to your real feelings and experiences (and if you wish, please share that version with me: I learn an immense amount from the people who write to me).

Thanksgiving Meditation 2006

Thanksgiving Meditation 2006
To the Force of Life and Love in the Universe:

Thank you for all the goodness in my life. How amazing it is to be blessed with the
ability to see and take in the magnificence of the universe.

In my daily life, I'm often distracted from noticing the marvels and miracles that
surround me. There is so much to accomplish, so many hurdles to jump, so much
that I feel needs attending. I sometimes get so involved in the immediate tasks that
I lose sight of the larger amazing realities that abound in my life.

That danger lurks for this Thanksgiving-that I'll become immersed in the details,
the event of it, the sharing of it, and the loneliness of it, the disappointments at
moments of potential closeness not fully actualized, as well as in the moments of
joyous connection to my immediate friends and family, and that I'll not take the
time for real celebration.

So I want to take this moment to more fully acknowledge what I know but rarely say to myself:

The universe did not have to evolve in the direction of creating conscious creatures who
could yearn for love and could appreciate complexity and could rejoice in the abundance
and manifest kindness. Thank you universe, thank you the consciousness of the universe,
thank you the evolutionary force of the universe, thank you God, thank you the Force of
Life and Healing and Transformation, thank you however inadequate my formulation of
your name and your being, for having evolved in this particular direction so that life
would emerge from the elements, so that consciousness would emerge from life, so
that kindness and love and attraction to peace and justice would emerge from consciousness.

This country in which I reside has so much beauty in its hills and mountains, its rivers and
streams, its forests and marshes, its oceans and lakes. How amazing to be able to be in the
presence of all this beauty. I am in awe of the grandeur of this universe with all its complexity
and beauty.

I celebrate this particular body which I at once am and inhabit, this blend of consciousness
and part unconsciousness, at every moment operating on multiple levels, tapping in to the
larger pool of consciousness of the universe in the ways that I can with all the limitations
that are part of my consciousness receptors (and all the levels of consciousness that are
available to me but which I have not yet fully explored), breathing and being breathed by
the universe, pumping blood, taking in and expelling parts of the world, listening, smelling,
tasting, seeing, hearing, and perceiving, forming plans and assessing information and
dreaming dreams, connecting me to others in emotional and physical ways that are
pleasurable-making me an ongoing miracle of life.

I rejoice in all that I am and all that I have been and all that I will become, knowing that this
too will pass, and that this miracle of embodied being will someday be merged back into
other forms of being from which I am made and from which I emerged, the matter and
consciousness of the universe, the Spirit that some people call God, and others, because
of the way that word has been appropriated by many religions to justify hurtful messages,
no longer call God..

I am thankful for my own personal life, for this particular set of dramas that I am part of
and which surround me at this moment of history.

I rejoice in the opportunities I have been given to play some role in advancing the
consciousness of the universe.

I stand on the platform of a thousand generations who developed agriculture and
food and recipes to cook or prepare, who developed technologies and medicines
that would make it possible for me to live a relatively gentle and easy life, who
developed language and the refinements of thought that were passed on to me by
parents and teachers and friends and books and movies so that I can now advance
and create new thoughts that are only possible because of all that has gone before
me and because I can draw upon their creativity which has become the common
property of the human race. I am grateful to the generations of humanity that
developed science, mathematics, experimental interactions with the universe,
and rational thought, and affirm all the goodness that has come from that powerful
enterprise, as well as affirming the need to develop ways for science to be expanded
or reconceived so that it can be more fully harnessed to the enterprise of building
a world of love, justice, generosity, awe, ecological sustainability and peace.

I have been given the knowledge of mystics and prophets and artists and poets from
which I can draw inspiration and sustenance when things look momentarily difficult.
I can learn the stories of the past, the history of others who similarly faced difficult
moments, moments in which it looked like the forces of darkness were triumphing,
and see that they too, like me, could not fully see how the darkness would be overcome,
and yet, learn also how it was overcome, time and time and time again.

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Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun and national chair of the Tikkun Community/ Network of Spiritual Progressives. People are invited to subscribe to Tikkun magazine or join the interfaith organization the Network of Spiritual Progressives-- "both of which can be done by (more...)
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