November 2021 WATERritual: Harvesting Gratitude

November 23, 2021 WATERritual

“Harvesting Gratitude”

By Diann L. Neu and Liza Johnson

We return thanks to the Great Spirit,
and send greetings and thanks
for all the gifts of Creation.
—Iroquois Prayer

Listen to the audio recording of the November 2021 WATERritual here.

Preparation
Have nearby a candle, bread, drink, and a harvest food like an apple.

Call to Gather

Welcome to our Thanksgiving Ritual, Harvesting Gratitude. This is the season of gratitude. This is the time to give thanks for all good blessings. There is so much that calls us to have a grateful attitude.

WATER, located in Silver Spring, Maryland, acknowledges that it sits on the traditional and contemporary homeland of the Piscataway and Nacotchtank (sometimes known as the Anacostan) people, the original stewards of this land.

Every day, and especially at this Thanksgiving season, we are committed to lifting up the names of these lands and the community members from these nations who reside alongside us and who were here long before we were. We affirm WATER’s intention to promote healing, respect, and love for all people through our work, with special indebtedness to Native people whose lands we are privileged to share.

Tonight, as we continue to live in the shadow of Covid, food scarcity, climate uncertainty, and political unrest, we take time to say, “Thank You.” Let us begin by lighting three candles of gratitude.

Lighting Gratitude Candles

I light this candle to say thank you to our families, friends, and communities; to Earth that grows our food, and to migrant workers who harvest it. Show the light.

I light this candle to thank those who have tried to keep us safe this year and to remember those who have suffered from natural disasters and human-made problems, especially Covid. Show the light.

I light this candle to thank the prophets and wise ancestors who have resisted and created new options for all. Show the light.

Blessing with the Light

To ensure that the lights remain a part of our journey long after the candles burn away, let us cup our hands over the flames and draw the heat toward our eyes three times.

Blessed is the light that guides us on the road to gratitude. With thanks we kindle the thanksgiving lights.

Iroquois Prayer from Iroquois Thanksgiving Address 2014 ohenton kariwahtekwen)   

We return thanks to our mother the Earth, which sustains us.
We return thanks to the rivers and streams,
which supply us with water.
We return thanks to all herbs,
which furnish medicines for the cure of our diseases.
We return thanks to the corn, and to her sisters,
the beans and squashes, which give us life.

We return thanks to the bushes and trees,
which provide us with fruit.
We return thanks to the wind,
which, moving the air, has banished disease.
We return thanks to the moon and stars,
which have given us their light when the sun was gone.
We return thanks to our grandfather He-no,
who has given us rain.
We return thanks to the sun,
that has looked upon the Earth with a beneficent eye.
Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit,
and send greetings and thanks for all the gifts of Creation.

Breathing Gratitude

Let us pay attention to our in-breath and out-breath.

Breathe in Gratitude. Breathe out Thank you.

Breathe in Gratitude. Breathe out Thank you.

Breathe in Gratitude. Breathe out Thank you.

Readings about Gratitude

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude can have major benefits for mental and physical health. Let’s listen to women’s words of gratitude.

“‘Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.”
Alice Walker

“I grind with gratitude for the richness of our harvest, not with cross feelings of working too hard. As I kneel at my grinding stone, I bow my head in prayer, thanking the great forces for provision. I have received much. I am willing to give much in return, for as I have taught you, there must always be a giving back for what one receives.” – Polingaysi Qoyawayma (Elizabeth Q. White), No Turning Back: A Hopi Indian Woman’s Struggle to Live in Two Worlds (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1964).

“The single greatest thing you can do to change your life today would be to start being grateful for what you have right now.” –Oprah Winfrey

Let us spend a few minutes in quiet reflection on “gratitude” and “thanks.”

Sound a chime.

Song: For Thy gracious blessings, For Thy wonderous word,
For Thy loving kindness, We give thanks Oh God.

Blessing Bread       

Hold your bread as we pray:
Blessed are you, Holy One of the Harvest, for giving us this day our daily bread, the bread of nourishment, the bread of gratitude, the bread of justice for all. Open our eyes to see the hunger of others, the physical hunger and the spiritual hunger. Thank you for giving your people food for the journey, nourishment for the struggle, sustenance of every sort.

Sung Response: For Thy gracious blessings, for Thy wonderous word,
For Thy loving kindness, we give thanks Oh God.

Blessing Drink

Raise your drink as we pray: Let us bless this drink in memory of our friends, children, students, parents, teachers, colleagues, and mentors who share their passion for life with the world.
Blessed are you, Holy One of Thanksgiving, for giving us this drink to quench our thirst. We thank you for the passion and joy of those we have known: young children, teenage dreamers, middle-aged visionaries, tireless prophets, and feisty elders. Let us share a Thanksgiving toast to life.

Sung Response: For Thy gracious blessings, for Thy wonderous word,
For Thy loving kindness, we give thanks Oh God.

Blessing Harvest Food

Pick up an apple or harvest food. Let us bless these foods in memory of those who sweat and toil for justice and those whose sweat and toil is the result of injustice.   
Blessed are you, Holy One of Nourishment, for giving us Earth, water, air, and fire that combine to make this harvest food. We thank you for the creative energy and labor of people we have known: cooks, homemakers, refugees, farmers, immigrants, gardeners; those whose muscles, minds, and hearts change the world.

Sung Response: For Thy gracious blessings, for Thy wonderous word,
For Thy loving kindness, we give thanks Oh God.

Sharing Stories of Gratitude

Who are the people and what are the things or events for which you are thankful? Let us share thoughts and stories of harvesting gratitude with one another in groups of three for 10 minutes. When you get into your group, share your name, where you are from, and what comes to your mind and heart when you hear the words Harvesting Gratitude.

Take Action

. Make thank-you cards and thank your friends and each person in your family for something.

. Make a gratitude garland. Cut thin strips of colorful paper and ask friends and family to write something on them that they are grateful for. Tape or staple each strip into a loop, interlocking with the next paper loop, until you have a beautiful chain. Use the gratitude garland to decorate the table or hang it over the door for a beautiful reminder of all your blessings.

. Work in a food pantry with others, decorate the to-go boxes with loving messages, or serve food in a nearby shelter this month.

Sending Forth

Let us go forth with gratitude
for every breath we take is a thank you
for the life we have been given,
for the wise ancestors who guide us,
for giving back for what we have received.

Before you go to sleep tonight, name three blessings.
Write them in a “grateful journal.”
Filled with gratitude, may you sleep well tonight!

Song: “Let Us Give Thanks for Unknown Blessings” by Carol Browning

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Io3vwnkpdEk&ab_channel=GIAPublications

Refrain: Let us give thanks for unknown blessings already on the way.
Let us give thanks for unknown blessings already on the way.
God holds the future the present and the past,
so let us give thanks for unknown blessings already on the way.

See the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap,
Yet God will give them food to eat, and God will care for us. Refrain:

Lilies of the field, they neither toil nor spin;
as they are clothed in glorious light, God gives us what we need. Refrain:

Do not fear or fret. Our lives are in God’s hands,
so praise and thanks should be our song, to God, our hope, our home. Refrain:

© 2021 Diann L. Neu, WATER, Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual, dneu@hers.com, adapted from Stirring WATERS: Feminist Liturgies for Justice by Diann L. Neu.