Thursday, November 24, 2011

Spirit of Thanksgiving

As grade school children, we carefully colored the scenes of the Pilgrims and the Indians sharing the first Thanksgiving. We used bright oranges, yellows and reds to color the feathers decorating the Indian warriors' heads, while leaving the Pilgrims bonnets and hats in solemn black and white.

We all heard the stories of the Pilgrims and the Indians sitting down together after harvest to give thanks for their bounty. After arriving in Plymouth in 1620, the Pilgrims had endured hardships but managed to survive, in large part due to the help of Squanto, an Indian who taught the Pilgrims how to fish, grow corn and farm the land. At the end of their first year, the Puritans held a harvest feast celebrating the bounty and honoring Squanto and their friends, the Wampanoag Indians. The feast was followed by three days of "thanksgiving," celebrating their good fortune.

When we were in Wichita for a Kansas Wheat meeting back in July, our morning walks took us along the riverwalk, where the Big and Little Arkansas rivers join together. This land between the two rivers is sacred ground to the Native American people. At its center is the Keeper of the Plains, an Indian warrior sculpture that was created by Wichitan and Native American artist Blackbear Bosin (1921-1980). The 44-foot statue was erected in 1974.

Who knows how accurate the portrayal of the first Thanksgiving is? But on a beautiful morning, with the sunrise lighting the Keeper of the Plains, perhaps it's important to consider how the Indians of that day approached thanks. One website says:

"Every act, every thought was carried out with thanksgiving."

Wouldn't our little corner of the world be a better place if that's how we approached each day? Every act, every thought carried out with thanksgiving ... It shouldn't take a November holiday we call Thanksgiving to remember that.

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