Thanks Giving Reflections from the Indigenous Culture of America

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NCMC wishes you a day of abundance or simplicity — and thanksgiving — for clear water, good food, and Mother Earth to sit on!

Greetings to the Natural World!

The Earth Mother
We are all thankful to our Mother, the Earth, for she gives us all that we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she continues to care for us as she has from the beginning of time. To our mother, we send greetings and thanks.
Now our minds are one.

The Waters
We give thanks to all the waters of the world for quenching our thirst and providing us with strength. Water is life. We know its power in many forms — waterfalls and rain, mists and streams, rivers and oceans. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the spirit of Water.
Now our minds are one.

The Food Plants
With one mind, we turn to honor and thank all the Food Plants we harvest from the garden. Since the beginning of time, the grains, vegetables, beans and berries have helped the people survive. Many other living things draw strength from them too. We gather all the Plant Foods together as one and send them a greeting of thanks.
Now our minds are one.

(Excerpted from a Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address)

The Three Sisters of Corn, Beans, and Squash

For many Indigenous People in the Americas, the triad of corn, beans, and squash is called the Three Sisters. Traditionally grown together, this crop trio are all interdependent on one another. Beans grow up the corn stalks and add the nutrients (nitrogen) to the soil that the others need to grow. Squash is planted in between them to keep the weeds out. These three staples remain the heart of most Indigenous diets and are often eaten in companion with each other.


REFLECTION: An Empty Bowl on Our Table

empty blue bowl.jpgMost of us here in the States will have some sort of Thanksgiving celebration or special meal tomorrow, but then again, many will not. Many of us love the day, but many dread it. There are so many reasons for both these extremes — loving families, dysfunctional families, lack of family, delicious food, tryptophan stasis, politics, displaced guests, misplaced historical truths — the list goes on.

One solution to keeping peace, inner or expressed, on this holiday is to bring an empty bowl to the table. What we mean here is to try to bring an empty mind that’s freed from assumptions, bias, preconceptions, and judgement. It’s a mind that can flex at the table and create harmony through, well, a sort of appropriation. Meaning, that we might put ourselves in others’ shoes, feeling compassion for what we might see as ignorance on political matters, stinginess in portions, or obnoxious personalities. Instead, we might see the stress in their faces!

How might we do this? By being in mindfulness as much as we can with an empty mind and a determinedly pleasant attitude. It doesn’t hurt either to consciously appreciate an actual empty bowl placed in front of us, to reflect on the great grace that we have daily to be able to feed ourselves and others.

Image: Yuan Period Jun Bowl; Wikimedia Common; Public Domain