The current sociopolitical cultural milieu is an atmosphere of fear and rage. An environment of sexism, racism, poverty, and xenophobia birthed from imperialist white supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchy works to marginalize and disenfranchise the vast majority of people in society. Fear is our shared lovelessness and when fear is expressed it manifests as anger, abuse, disease, pain, greed, addiction, selfishness, obsession, corruption, violence, and war (Williamson 1992). Rage in this moment is not pathological, it is an appropriate response to injustice. It is a collective response to exploitation, oppression, and a politicized agenda to disinherit (hooks 1995). Not even our religious spaces are unmarred by the evil of separatism and the brokenness of the human family. It is in this environment that our calendars invite us to commemorate Thanksgiving as a holiday.
Thanksgiving is problematic historically for all those who hold its celebration to accountability for its historical realities. I stand in solidarity with my siblings in acknowledging the horrible genocide committed against Indigenous People and simultaneously I feel drawn to acknowledge the Thanksgiving season and invite it to hold very different meaning for me this year. I imagine that Thanksgiving could actually be the door to a shift in the way we engage the world around us. That along with rage we might also add to our repository of emotional intelligence gratitude. If fear comes from visualizing the end based on the current landscape it is a rational response, but gratitude is equally rational when we also make room in the currency of our ideas for an outcome based on our highest human potential. The gratitude I suggest is grounded in hope and carried by love.
Whether you celebrate winter solstice or the birth of the Christ mind -the Christ mind is the common thread of Divine love that is the core and essence of the created world, for Christians it is revealed in the person and work of Jesus (Williamson 1992)- the best of our religious traditions hold the truth that light comes following the darkest hour. This year more than ever my own personal sense of gratitude is tied to the darkness around me, which stirs in me hope for the bright day that is already here, even though I am still in the reality of dark night. Gratitude is not related to an expectancy of what we may receive tomorrow, it is the sharing of joy for what is already received (Goldsmith 1986). Gratitude unlocks the frequency of abundance because it decenters the narrative of lack and allows us to focus in on the opulence of the Universe. Authentic gratitude is not the denial of reality, it is the choice to see the gifts that reality brings with it. We are presently in an era of opportunity and while the shadow side of humanity is daily highlighted in every mass media outlet, there is an undeniable brilliance resident in this epoch. Every protestor, justice warrior, blogger, artist, preacher, and teacher is a gift to our shared humanity and no matter what realities we see, this is a reason for Thanksgiving.
We face trying times where humanity’s inner maladies are out-pictured in the widest and most far reaching realities of common space, but the principle teaching of my religious orientation informs me that God not only transcends, but is everywhere immanent in the Universe (Fox 1941). For me every tragedy carries a gift and every gift carries a tragedy. I will continue to experience and express rage because anything less than rage is disingenuous. Along with my rage I will continue to experience profound gratitude for this moment in time knowing that the light is here, because I am here. I invite you and your spiritual communities to engage Thanksgiving this year from this same place of GRATITUDE!
Peace Is Possible,
+ Edward Donalson III, DMin | Director of Liturgy and Worship | Assistant Clinical Professor
SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY AND MINISTRY | SEATTLE UNIVERSITY 901 12th Avenue, Seattle WA 98122-1090 Office (206) 296-6357 | firstname.lastname@example.org www.worshipandliturgysustm.com Follow the school on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | LinkedIn | Vimeo
Fox, Emmet. 1941. Find and Use Your Inner Power. New York: HarperCollins.
Goldsmith, Joel S. 1986. Practicing the Presence. New York: HaperOne.
hooks, bell. 1995. Killing Rage:Ending Racism. New York : Henry Holt and Company.
Williamson, Marianne. 1992. A Return to Love: Reflections on Principles of A Course in Miracles. New York: HarperOne.