At the heart of the landscape of Mother Earth, there is a feeling of belonging. Belonging is the basic truth of our existence. We belong here. Life belongs here. At the heart of gratefulness we also find an expression of belonging. When we say “Thank you” we really are saying “We belong together.” Many people don’t want to be connected or interdependent. Many of us don’t want to be obliged.
In a healthy society that is exactly what we seek: mutual obligations. Everyone is obliged to everyone and everything else, we all belong together, we are of each other. In this awareness we are freed from self’preoccupation—and only then, emptied of self, can we be filled with thanks.
” Love wholeheartedly, be surprised, give thanks and praise—then you will discover the fullness of your life.” —Brother David Steindl-Rast
Within this human impulse to gratitude flows the vast cycles of universal reciprocity—for everything that is taken, something has to be given in return. You can’t merely breath in, or only breath out. Death would find you. Life is not giving or taking, but it is giving and taking.
We give away our thanks to the earth
which gives us our home.
We give away our thanks to the rivers and lakes
which give away their water.
We give away our thanks to the trees
which give away fruit and nuts…
All beings on earth, the trees, the animals, the wind
and the rivers give away to one another
so all is in balance…
—Dolores La Chapelle
I will sing of the well-founded Earth,
Mother of all, eldest of all beings.
She feeds all creatures that are in the world,
all that go upon the goodly land,
all that are in the paths of the seas,
and all that fly,
all these are fed of her store.
Hail Earth, mother of the gods,
freely bestow upon me for this my song
that cheers the heart!
—Homeris Hymns XXX, adapted by Elizabeth Roberts
in a moment of peace
I give thanks
to the source of all peace
as I set forth
into the day
the birds sing
with new voices
and I listen
with new ears
and give thanks.
You can see forever
when the vision is clear
in this moment
I give thanks.