This is written by my old friend Hilton Obenzinger.  Strikes just the right note for today.  Please enjoy the holiday, all we have to be thankful for, keeping in mind all those who have so little and live with untold suffering.

— Alan

Giving Thanks

                                  — Hilton Obenzinger

Thanks to this continent and our country, thanks for the mountains and canyons, fields, farms, and cities and towns, thanks for the beauty of wilderness and urban denseness, thanks for birds and bears, buffalos and bees, thanks for the wonders of geysers and the marvels of subways and highways, thanks for a beautiful tapestry of joy.

Thank you to the Iroquois, Tlingit, Lakota, Hopi, Navajo, Acoma, Yurok, Cherokee, Pequot, Creek, thanks to all the tribes and nations, thanks to the first people of the continent, thanks for what you have given despite all that was taken from you, thank you for your generosity despite the constant theft, despite the sickness and booze, the poverty and suicides, thank you for surviving and then returning to fight again at Alcatraz and Wounded Knee, thanks for enduring and resisting and thriving despite massacres and humiliations, thanks for teaching us all how to be true, how to be people of this continent, for respecting all those who came before and for the generations who will come after us.

Thanks to the first dinner guests, those who came over rough seas to build new lives, determined and bold despite their narrow views, despite what sins they would commit without accounting them sins while berating themselves for sins that do not require remorse, thanks to the people who have come since the first dinner guests, those people who braved rough seas and treacherous rivers to seek fairness and life, thanks to those heroes celebrated and unknown, who expect justice, who demand equality, who think they have a dream, thanks to the dreamers who want a decent life for themselves and for others, who want to worship without restraint, who want to flee religion without restraint, who have fought for freedom, thanks to whose who demonstrate, who sit in, who occupy, who silently wait at home to write letters, who muse over possibilities, who refuse to obey noxious orders, who blow whistles, who stop the lynch mob, who make beautiful art and sing songs, thanks to the freedom to be who we want, thanks for the respect, thanks for life and sex and choice and desire and compassion, thanks for the children, thanks for the way we help each other in need, for the energy and creativity of millions, for allowing us to be caretakers of our planet.

Thanks to our country despite its crimes, the violations of rights and violence, despite police clubs and gasses and bullets, despite the Klan, despite the greed of the plutocrats, despite the horror of endless wars, despite empire, exploitation, pain and deceit, despite a military larger than all others combined, despite the destruction of lands, the poisoning of waters, the sky filled with gases, despite the waters rising, the man-made droughts and floods, despite cruel discrimination, despite the murder of heroes, despite the crushing despair of ordinary people, despite the constant looting by corporations who regard themselves as persons, despite the death of millions of actual persons who cannot afford doctors, despite the poor education and numbing media, thanks to our country because it is ours, and it will be ours no matter what evil befalls us, ours to regain and it will be ours to tend to in its sickness, ours to share, ours to rejoice when the rivers run freely and salmon return to their spawning grounds, thank you for the harvests yet to come.

We are all the dinner guests, and each time the thankfulness can start again, each time we can forgive all the mistakes, we can make ourselves whole and our country whole each time we gather to eat, we can be the ones who embrace the world, who can laugh and make others laugh, and we can give thanks to the vast expanse of the sky, of the great cosmic immensity, give thanks to the multiplicity, to all creation, and we can join with everyone to be the ones who give thanks to each other.

About asenauke

Zen Buddhist priest, activist, writer, father, musician
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