The other day I was talking to my friend Lu Whitebear about all of the travel happening this Thanksgiving. I was discussing my difficulty having grace for those who are choosing to travel during a global pandemic. One of the things Lu said was, “You can’t reinvent a holiday based on genocide.”
And that my friends is the truth about this week.
Sunday begins the Advent season. This is the season of looking forward. Universally Christians are looking forward to the second coming of Christ. We are tapping deep into our hearts and preparing to show God how deep our faith lies. Christ is coming, and we have entered the time of great thanksgiving.
The healing of our world begins with looking backwards. As the Episcopal Church we have begun the process of reconciliation and are taking very seriously the work of righting the sins of racism, colonialization, and historical oppression. Today we begin the work of honoring our deep connection with all beings, and this, of course, begins with our connection with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the web of humanity, and Mother Earth. But first, we must understand our history.
In a reading from Tommy Orange’s book There, There we learn, “In 1621, colonists invited Massasoit, the chief of the Wampanoags, to a feast after a recent land deal. Massasoit came with ninety of his men. That meal is why we still eat a meal together in November. But that one wasn’t a thanksgiving meal. It was a land-deal meal. Two years later there was another, similar meal meant to symbolize eternal friendship. Two hundred Indians dropped dead that night from an unknown poison.” These types of “thanksgivings” would take place many times before the first Indian war. Tens of thousands of Indigenous people murdered in the name of thanksgiving.
We are taught that this last week is about the great thanksgiving, but what it is really about is a great reckoning. Our salvation begins when we stop ignoring the voice of God that is placed in our hearts. We are being called into a sacred journey, right now at this moment. This journey of salvation requires the use of the trifecta of reverence, discernment, and prayer. It is a journey of deep contemplation and restoration.
It starts with reverence. When I was growing up I was taught that to be reverent meant to be quiet. I remember my mom telling me to sit still and shhhh when we went to church. Be “reverent” she would say. And so I believed that reverence meant to be subtle, quiet, and reserved. Last week I was in a mastermind and my friend Lia Dunlap said, reverence is none of those things, reverence isn’t quiet. It is an acknowledging. It is a deep, true connection to the divine. It is a divine righteous fury for turning away from the love of everyone. Reverence is the thunderstorm in its intensity. Reverence is expansive and the restoration given from reverence comes when we live deeply and intentionally by the law of love.
Reverence for love reconnects us to community and gives us the space to welcome in a world of relationship and reciprocity. It reminds us that this week is not just about Thanksgiving, but a reminder that there is much work for us to do, and for that we are grateful. When we stand in reverence to the God that opens the heavens, crumbles the mountains, and brings fire to the trees we are connecting to the legacy of the deepest fiercest source of love.
And so we pray, “Dear God, do not be angry beyond measure, although we sure understand it because we have colonized in your name. Do not remember our sins forever, but forgive us for destroying the world you gifted us because of our fears. Oh, look on us, we pray, for we are ALL your people and we misunderstood that when we did not feel your loving grace and turned away from your teachings.”
When we pray and conjure we are in creation. When we connect with the power of the holy trinity and the divine feminine we are in creation. Live with intention. Live with love. Open yourself up to the opportunity to listen to the voice of God as you recognize his deep gift of transformation.
Be awake and know that you will recognize God and the Divine Mother when you pray thanksgiving for the four elements that he created for our salvation. This act of graceful revolution comes when we feel the earth beneath our feet, breathe the air that fills our lungs, drink the water that sustains, and enjoy the warmth of the fire. He created these for us to honor, not to destroy. Pray that we all learn from our past. Pray for revival that we may be saved.
Discernment is the path towards understanding. Giving over to discernment creates opportunities for us to unapologetically accept that we are sacred beings. Miracles of life placed here to live out our divine assignment. Discernment is a varied process for each one of us. We all take a different path towards understanding. What is your process of discernment? How do you gather the branches of compassionate comprehension? If God walked through the door, what would you ask them? Would you be caught sleeping?
This is a time of reconciliation and transition into radical gratitude. We are here on purpose to be of service to our purpose. How will you engage in radical gratitude and thanksgiving? How will you know that you are ready to meet God? We are doing the work of creation when we pray, when we are reverent, when we engage in active discernment and contemplation.
We are here at this exact moment in time to create a beloved community as our grandmothers grandmothers mothers did long before we were here.
Attune yourself to the thrumming of your blood, the rhythm of your soul, and the divinity of your calling.
In the grace of God’s name and Mother Earth we pray,