In the United States, the fourth Thursday in November is Thanksgiving Day. There are some complexities to celebrating this holiday (and the following weekend, and indeed the holiday season) in ways that are truly in keeping with agaya and ubuntu. Nonetheless, a day devoted to gratitude has wonderful potential to be reinterpreted by the Novasutras community.
The brilliant book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer provides an illuminating example of the “Thanksgiving Address” (or “Words That Come Before All Else”) in the chapter “Allegiance to Gratitude.” This recitation could be adapted and adopted as a practice before Novasutras gatherings, as it so beautifully brings people into harmony for doing the work of a world abiding in agaya and ubuntu. As Kimmerer notes, do not regret when it goes on “too long,” as this just means that we have so very much for which we can be thankful!
The “Thanksgiving Address” begins:
Today we have gathered and when we look upon the faces around us 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 let us bring our minds together as one as we give greetings and thanks to each other as People. Now our minds are one.Braiding Sweetgrass (p. 107)
The recitation continues, thanking Mother Earth:
We are thankful for out Mother the Earth, for she gives us everything we need for life. She supports our feet as we walk about upon her. It gives us joy that she still continues to care for us, just as she has from the beginning of time. To our Mother, we send thanksgiving, love, and respect. Now our minds are one.Braiding Sweetgrass (p. 108)
It continues further, giving thanks for the Waters, the Fish, the Food Plants, the Medicine Herbs, the Trees, the Animals… there is truly so much for which we should express our gratitude! You can also find a full version on the Native American Rights Fund site and a version in the original Haudenosaunee language.
If you don’t think the people you share your holiday feast with would appreciate the full Thanksgiving Address, here’s a quick, easy-to-share blessing (including a brief land acknowledgement), to inspire your own blessing this Thanksgiving or for similar celebrations. You might find out more about the indigenous people who lived where you are now at https://native-land.ca/
So, wherever you are in the world, please do pause for a moment (or better yet, an hour or two) on this Thanksgiving Thursday, and consider all the amazing and wondrous things for which you can be grateful in this beautiful and bountiful world. Celebrate and enjoy the day with ubuntu and agaya!