Thanksgiving: Being Thankful and Being Connected As One

By Randy Woodley

Creator has put us on this good earth, amidst all the diversity-to be one with Creator, each other and all creation. Many people appreciate nature but the creation exists for much more than our individual pleasure. In fact, if we continue to violate the sacredness of creation;  if things continue down the road they are on; it is easy to imagine a world operating in its fullness, but without the human beings that once inhabited it. This would be sad indeed. Our anthropocentric worldviews can hardly bear the thought of the world not revolving around us but, like all the other parts of creation, humans also have an important place of connectedness to, for and with the created environment.

The Scriptures are helpful to us by creating a context. By following the first parts of the Genesis story we can see that there is an obvious relationship between the Creator, earth, human beings, animals, birds, plants, waters, and so on. In this story, the God who took the time to create and observe all the goodness of creation in its fullness, stays with creation. God doesn’t abandon any of it to be left on its own. After all, why would one hang a beautiful painting to never take a second look? And creation is so much more than a painting!

In a similar fashion to the Genesis 1 account, the writer of Psalm 148 slowly unpacks and enjoys what God has made.

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens! Praise him from the skies!

Praise him, all his angels! Praise him, all the armies of heaven!

Praise him, sun and moon! Praise him, all you twinkling stars!

Praise him, skies above! Praise him, vapors high above the clouds!

Let every created thing give praise to the Lord,

for he issued his command, and they came into being.

He set them in place forever and ever. His decree will never be revoked.

Praise the Lord from the earth, you creatures of the ocean depths,

fire and hail, snow and clouds, wind and weather that obey him,

mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all livestock,

small scurrying animals and birds, kings of the earth and all people, rulers and judges of the earth, young men and young women, old men and children.

Let them all praise the name of the Lord. For his name is very great; his glory towers over the earth and heaven!

He has made his people strong, honoring his faithful ones—the people of Israel who are close to him. Praise the Lord!

The Psalmist reflects the Creator’s enjoyment of creation by recognizing the many aspects of how God is seen and glorified through the creation. Each line reminds us to be thankful for such great gifts. It is truly humbling to know that God wants to share creation’s beauty with us as we take the time to watch the beauty of creation unfold around us.

Native Americans have similar constructs to these scriptural examples of thanksgiving that honor the Creator for creation. One of those prayers has been formalized and I would like to share it with you. (Please notice the great similarities in recognizing and enjoying each part of creation. You might even consider praying along with this powerful translation of the Mohawk version of the Haudenosaunee Thanksgiving Address or using it this year as your Thanksgiving Day Prayer).[1]

Greetings to the Natural World

The People: Today we have gathered and we see that the cycles of life continue. We have been given the duty to live in balance and harmony with each other and all living things. So now, we bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as People. Now our minds are one.

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 Fish: We turn our minds to all the Fish life in the water. They were instructed to cleanse and purify the water. They also give themselves to us as food. We are grateful that we can still find pure water. So, we turn now to the Fish and send our greetings and thanks. Now our minds are one.

The Plants: Now we turn toward the vast fields of Plant life. As far as the eye can see, the Plants grow, working many wonders. They sustain many life forms. With our minds gathered together, we give thanks and look forward to seeing Plant life for many generations to come. 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 and thanks. Now our minds are one.

The Medicine Herbs: Now we turn to all the Medicine Herbs of the world. From the beginning, they were instructed to take away sickness. They are always waiting and ready to heal us. We are happy there are still among us those special few who remember how to use these plants for healing. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to the Medicines and to the keepers of the Medicines. Now our minds are one.

The Animals: We gather our minds together to send greetings and thanks to all the Animal life in the world. They have many things to teach us as people. We see them near our homes and in the deep forests. We are glad they are still here and we hope that it will always be so. Now our minds are one.

The Trees We now turn our thoughts to the Trees. The Earth has many families of Trees who have their own instructions and uses. Some provide us with shelter and shade, others with fruit, beauty, and other useful things. Many peoples of the world use a Tree as a symbol of peace and strength. With one mind, we greet and thank the Tree life.  Now our minds are one.

The Birds: We put our minds together as one and thank all the Birds who move and fly about over our heads. The Creator gave them beautiful songs. Each day they remind us to enjoy and appreciate life. The Eagle was chosen to be their leader. To all the Birds—from the smallest to the largest—we send our joyful greetings and thanks. Now our minds are one.

The Four Winds: We are all thankful to the powers we know as the Four Winds. We hear their voices in the moving air as they refresh us and purify the air we breathe. They help to bring the change of seasons. From the four directions they come, bringing us messages and giving us strength. With one mind, we send our greetings and thanks to the Four Winds. Now our minds are one.

The Thunderers: Now we turn to the west where our Grandfathers, the Thunder Beings, live. With lightening and thundering voices, they bring with them the water that renews life. We bring our minds together as one to send greetings and thanks to our Grandfathers, the Thunderers. Now our minds are one.

The Sun: We now send greetings and thanks to our eldest Brother, the Sun. Each day without fail he travels the sky from east to west, bringing the light of a new day. He is the source of all the fires of life. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Brother, the Sun. Now our minds are one.

Grandmother Moon: We put our minds together and give thanks to our oldest Grandmother, the Moon, who lights the nighttime sky. She is the leader of women all over the world, and she governs the movement of the ocean tides. By her changing face we measure time, and it is the Moon who watches over the arrival of children here on Earth. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to our Grandmother, the Moon. Now our minds are one.

The Stars: We give thanks to the Stars who are spread across the sky like jewelry. We see them in the night, helping the Moon to light the darkness and bringing dew to the gardens and growing things. When we travel at night, they guide us home. With our minds gathered together as one, we send greetings and thanks to all the Stars. Now our minds are one.

The Enlightened Teachers: We gather our minds to greet and thank the enlightened Teachers who have come to help throughout the ages. When we forget how to live in harmony, they remind us of the way we were instructed to live as people. With one mind, we send greetings and thanks to these caring Teachers. Now our minds are one.

The Creator: Now we turn our thoughts to the Creator, or Great Spirit, and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of Creation. Everything we need to live a good life is here on this Mother Earth. For all the love that is still around us, we gather our minds together as one and send our choicest words of greetings and thanks to the Creator. Now our minds are one.

Closing Words: We have now arrived at the place where we end our words. Of all the things we have named, it was not our intention to leave anything out. If something was forgotten, we leave it to each individual to send such greetings and thanks in their own way. And now our minds are one.


[1] 1993, and provided here, courtesy of Six Nations Indian Museum and the Tracking Project Thanksgiving Address: Greetings to the Natural World English version: John Stokes and Kanawahienton (David Benedict, Turtle Clan/Mohawk) Mohawk version: Rokwaho (Dan Thompson, Wolf Clan/Mohawk) Original inspiration: Tekaronianekon (Jake Swamp, Wolf Clan/Mohawk) Thanksgiving Address Fund c/o Tracking Project P.O. Box 266, Corrales, New Mexico 87048.

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3 Responses to Thanksgiving: Being Thankful and Being Connected As One

  1. Bo Sanders says:

    I gave thanks this morning with this prayer. My heart is full of gratitude.

    Thank you for sharing this! -Bo

  2. Anne Wood says:

    I shared this with my son and his family as a thanksgiving blessing.

  3. Porter Doran says:

    This is beautiful, this is hopeful.

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