Thanksgiving from Stonehaven
Thanksgiving from Stonehaven
After more than two centuries of Quaker family tradition on this land, this house has seen many Thanksgiving dinners! We call our home Stonehaven Commons; in the past it was named Hillside and Gaybrook. This morning I am wondering what these walls know, what the grandmother white oak has seen and what tribal peoples roamed these acres in the centuries before that. I am certain that the roots of earth-belonging are very deep in this place. My heart tells me so.
Gratitude, thanksgiving, and blessing — how good it is to set aside this season for these precious gifts! This picture reveals moments of the fun of living and working together here on this property. Recently I have been relishing the phenomenal gift of intentional community, and am so grateful for our friends Jenni Kay, Ashley, Trish, Zach, Robin, and Jason who come for months or years, and then move on. Today we heard that Nelson will join us for much of the winter. Each one shares their days together with Uli and me, enriching our lives. I pray that that our community, like the overflowing compost pile, will multiply beyond our capacity for knowing, from our soul’s harvest, from all the seasonal deaths into springing life again.
I, for one, know how easy it is to peer into the future through my dirt-smudged bifocals and then blunder about, being anxious about all I can’t see. As humans our reflexive fears so easily cloud the joyful bounty of harvest, of another season, of another year drawing to a close. On Saturday, I put away the last rake, propped up the wheelbarrows in their winter shelter, and shouted my relief to Uli, “I’m done, the gardening year is over – hallelujah!” I’m more than ready to let go of the toils of the autumn garden – never my favorite time of year – except the chores we do together!
A part of me is ready to bask in memories as I look out from the window at the barren perennial border with its dry stubs and wizened unripe figs, but another part of me is chomping at the bit for more action, finding it extraordinarily painful to rest, to let go, to wait. Personally, I find there is nothing like the annual gardening cycle to remind me of my human need to produce. I’m curious how one moment my ego cringes at the wasteland of winter but in the next, my soul laps up the luxury of just being. This physical land at Stonehaven holds my heart as a centering-piece, the ‘here and now’ anchor in time– just as it has done for so many over the centuries. I honor those ones whose spirits still speak in the walls and gurgle and rustle along the leaf-covered stream. I know that all that comes swirling in the winds of winter will draw me into the wild darkness of Earth’s Love, and I am truly and deeply thankful.
How curious too that the ‘shopping’ season has now begun in earnest. King of Prussia Road was already a madhouse this weekend! Is it possible this frenetic accumulation of stuff to dress-up our lives plumps up the unnerved ego, like a fat turkey that somehow realizes it is about to be slaughtered for dinner? To be true, I also know that this excitement at giving and receiving of gifts is such a sacred ritual. I wonder, how can I enter this season and consciously give from my heart’s abundance to another, especially to those Others who are so different from me? Our own unique form of wildness can so easily be muted and misunderstood.
Maybe that’s one reason why I write these blogs, reminding myself of the deep values of tradition, and in some way simply giving back to All that is. This morning I offer my little reflective gift of thanksgiving to that great unity of which we are each a part. I trust that my words in some way ring true to some part of you – whether you like me are a relieved and happy gardener, a bustling shopper, or a hungry soul aware of some inner distress. Know that we are all connected as One in our Earth community. Let’s give thanks together.
Here’s a gift from our friend Joe Riley at Panahala – for your Thanksgiving table – a grace of blessing:
Thanks & blessings be
to the Sun & the Earth
for this bread & this wine,
this fruit, this meat, this salt,
thanks be & blessing to them
who prepare it, who serve it;
thanks & blessings to them
who share it
(& also the absent & the dead).
Thanks & Blessing to them who bring it
(may they not want),
to them who plant & tend it,
harvest & gather it
(may they not want);
thanks & blessing to them who work
& blessing to them who cannot;
may they not want – for their hunger
sours the wine & robs
the taste from the salt.
Thanks be for the sustenance & strength
for our dance & work of justice, of peace.
~ Rafael Jesus Gonzalez ~
(In Praise of Fertile Land, edited by Claudia Mauro)