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Gratitude for the Work of Loving the World

“I am thankful for many things. First of all, I am thankful for the world, because without it we would be floating in outer space. Second of all, I am thankful for mom and dad and sister, because they help me. Last of all, I am grateful for nature because if we didn’t have nature it wouldn’t be pretty. I am thankful for all of these things.”

That’s what one of my bright, kind, adventuresome granddaughters wrote a few years ago (at age 6) in response to a school assignment. On Thanksgiving Day that year — with three generations of our family at the table — we read her words aloud as our blessing. As we did, I thought, “Naiya speaks for me!” Like her, I’m grateful for simple gifts:

  • For the ground on which I stand — whether it’s the kind that grows greenery or the kind in which my soul can take root.
  • For the people who’ve supported me — from those who know me well and love me nonetheless to strangers who offered help in a moment of need.
  • For the natural world, which really does make things pretty — a beauty to which I often turn for solace, healing, inspiration, and peace.

The only way to keep a gift alive is to pass it along. So on Thanksgiving Day this year — in a world where so many have been deprived of so much — I’ll give thanks by finding more ways to share the abundance I’ve been given.

I’ll also re-read this Mary Oliver poem. If I could embrace the idea that “My work is loving the world” — and spend my days living more fully into that job description — I’d be giving thanks not just with my words but with my life.

by Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird —
                     equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

(Excerpted from Thirst. Read the full poem here.)

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