There is no feast of Thanksgiving in either the British national or church calendars, but it seems to me a good thing for any nation to set aside a day for the gratitude which is in truth the root of every other virtue. So on American Thanksgiving, I am re-posting here an Englishman’s act of thanksgiving.
I am conscious of what a strange and difficult Thanksgiving this will be for my American friends as necessary restrictions prevent them from gathering in large family groups as usual, though that sad restraint is itself a great act of love, and in this case physical distance is itself, strangely, the sign of emotional closeness. I’m also conscious that in amongst the thanks for ‘mere survival’ is lament and grief for those who have left this world in this strange year. But lament itself can become part of thanksgiving for their lives.
As always you can hear the poem by clicking on the play button if it appears or on the title.
This sonnet comes from my sequence Sounding the Seasons published by Canterbury Press The book is available in North america from Steve Bell here, or Amazon here. Since we don’t keep thanksgiving I have made it part of a mini-sequence of three centred on the feast of All Saints, which we have recently celebrated. The image that follows the poem is by Margot Krebs Neale
Thanksgiving starts with thanks for mere survival,
Just to have made it through another year
With everyone still breathing. But we share
So much beyond the outer roads we travel;
Our interweavings on a deeper level,
The modes of life embodied souls can share,
The unguessed blessings of our being here,
The warp and weft that no one can unravel.
So I give thanks for our deep coinherence
Inwoven in the web of God’s own grace,
Pulling us through the grave and gate of death.
I thank him for the truth behind appearance,
I thank him for his light in every face,
I thank him for you all, with every breath.
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