The Honorable Harvest

Lover’s Leap Trail, Hot Springs, N. Carolina, USA

A friend in Scotland spoke to me recently about the Harvest Festival celebrated there and how it involves all parts of a community in it’s endeavor to come together for the good of all beings, to learn from each other and the natural world, and celebrate the abundant sustenance that nature brings when humans are in sustainable and respectful relationship.

Based on the natural cycles and rhythms of seasons these practices of community celebration offers to bring humans back into right relationship with what essentially sustains and nourishes not only our physical being, but our emotional grounding and spiritual connection with all life.

Robin Wall Kimmerer, an indigenous elder, in the beautiful video below, reminds us that a culture of sharing is a culture of resilience. And that every breath you take is a breath given to you by plants. That we only take what we need from the natural world and always ask permission first, respecting when the clear message is no or not now.

With the fast paced and chaotic life swirling around us have we forgotten how to listen to the plants that sustain us? To be in reciprocal collaborative relationship with the natural world in order to maintain the balance and interconnected community of all life.

To respect and be grateful for each breath we have been given and give back in a way that is stewarding and mindful. To relearn what it is to listen to the messages of trees, plants, animals and seasons that are always whispering to us the wisdom of living in union giving back in reciprocity.

As we come closer to the national holiday of Thanksgiving here in the U.S. my plan to be out in nature on that day to express my gratitude for all that I am given will have me exploring ways in which I can give back as I learn even more about the trees, plants and wildlife in this area I now call home.

The recognition that as elders we have an important role to play in this revitalization of relationship between the natural world and humans through our conscious actions, our creative artistry, our wisdom and our relationships.

Every day is an opportunity to live from gratefulness and abundant “enough” in relationship with the natural world . Perhaps taking to heart some of the practices below offered by A Network For Grateful Living will remind you why you are here and the impact you can make.

Here are some suggestions from A Network For Grateful Living:

Practices to Cultivate a Truly Grateful Thanksgiving

  • Begin your day by noticing your breath. Try to tune in to your breath before you get out of bed in the morning, before you even open your eyes. Notice the fact that you’re breathing. You’ve awoken to a new day, and you’re alive. Tune in to the way your body naturally inhales and exhales, about 1000 times an hour. Remember this gift of breath as precious and never a guarantee; it is something shared with all living beings. What arises when you remember this truth? How might gratefully tuning in to your breath change the way you awaken to the day?
  • Take time to tell someone in your life you appreciate them and why. Perhaps it’s someone you live with, someone who lives elsewhere whom you call or talk with virtually, a neighbor, or someone whose services are “essential” to you and others. If it’s someone you’re not able to connect with verbally at this time, perhaps you could write a letter or send an eCard. How does it feel to articulate your appreciation for someone? What happens in your body and your heart? How does it impact your sense of belonging?
  • Explore, read aloud, and share this collection of Thanksgiving Blessings from voices around the globe, as you deepen a commitment to gratefulness for the gifts of life.
  • Enjoy these grateful living conversation starters for your virtual or in-person gathering. These prompts also work well for individual reflection or journaling.
  • “Give thanks for what you have been given,” says Robin Wall Kimmerer. We invite you to watch the beautiful, short video below — alone or with others — and to take time to give thanks for the sources of our nourishment. If you’re fortunate enough to have healthy food to eat on this day, how does your experience change when you pause to give thanks to the plants themselves and to honor all those whose labor and love have made this food possible?
  • “Grateful action is what puts the life into grateful living,” writes Kristi Nelson. Moved by the consideration of the blessings in your life, how are you called to serve others? Is there a neighbor who may be alone this holiday who would benefit from a home-cooked meal or piece of delicious pie delivered to their door? Is there an organization whose essential work could be enhanced by your contribution of time or treasure? How will your Thanksgiving week be made richer by serving others from a place of gratefulness?
  • Learn anew about Thanksgiving. While this holiday can feel celebratory for many, its inaccurate historical accounts of Native Americans can perpetuate ongoing harm and racism when left unaddressed. Acknowledging the presence of both pleasure and deep pain on this day, we invite you to explore the following resources. These offer the opportunity to redefine Thanksgiving and to actively change the way we celebrate, give thanks, honor the land, and cultivate communities of belonging — today and every day.

Gaye Abbott, Natural Passages Consulting, 11/23/21. Please feel free to share this post and link to WildlyFreeElder.

Considering a move? Finding Home: Conscious Relocation Services by Gaye Abbott

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