Rose Berger’s Thanksgiving Table Prayer

(Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)
(Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

We’ll have about 13 joining us today for Thanksgiving dinner. I hope you will join us in spirit by sharing our Thanksgiving Table Prayer wherever you are.

Thanksgiving Table Prayer
by Rose Marie Berger

Blessed art thou, Lord our God, Creator of the Universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.

Open our hearts to peace and healing between all people.
Open our hearts to provide for and protect all the children of the earth.
Open our hearts to respect for the earth and all the gifts of the earth.
Crowd our open hearts with gratitude as we celebrate this feast of Thanksgiving.

We pause now and, silently or aloud, offer our thanks for Your great generosity. [Allow for silent reflection or short spoken prayers.]

We thank you for the gifts of one another–especially for the gifts of love and affection that are freely shared among us and with the creatures of the earth.

We thank you for all who are present at this our feast as well as for all those who have labored in love to bring this dinner to our table.

May You, our God, bless this Thanksgiving feast and all of us who share it. May it nourish our bodies and strengthen our souls that we may serve the “least of these” in the days to come. Amen.

Belle Fox-Martin: ‘Come – Thanksgiving’

I’m grateful to the lovely poet Belle Fox-Martin for sending me this Thanksgiving poem and prayer.

Belle is a United Church of Christ licensed minister, artist, and writer living in western Massachusetts. (Sojourners ran her poem “Against the Night” in March 2012.)

Come – Thanksgiving

Find your way
over the quiet earth,
under the charged skies.
Look across the emptied fields
and up at the geese
in their ordered disarray.
See the few apples
still holding to the stem.

Come to the table.
Find your way.
Don’t deny hunger leaning
hard against your door.
Remember those things
easy to forget.
Uplift the lost
and blessings made manifest.

Find your way.
Come to the table.
Let thanks and giving
brush sweet against your cheek,
then watch the deer step
into the deeper wood;
as you raise your glass
and mouth prayers
into the chill.

–Belle Fox-Martin

Thanksgiving Blessings

“Prayer Before Meal” by Filipino cubist artist Vicente Manansala.

by W. S. Merwin

with the night falling we are saying thank you
we are stopping on the bridges to bow from the railings
we are running out of the glass rooms
with our mouths full of food to look at the sky
and say thank you
we are standing by the water thanking it
smiling by the windows looking out
in our directions

back from a series of hospitals back from a mugging
after funerals we are saying thank you
after the news of the dead
whether or not we knew them we are saying thank you

over telephones we are saying thank you
in doorways and in the backs of cars and in elevators
remembering wars and the police at the door
and the beatings on stairs we are saying thank you
in the banks we are saying thank you
in the faces of the officials and the rich
and of all who will never change
we go on saying thank you thank you

with the animals dying around us
our lost feelings we are saying thank you
with the forests falling faster than the minutes
of our lives we are saying thank you
with the words going out like cells of a brain
with the cities growing over us
we are saying thank you faster and faster
with nobody listening we are saying thank you
we are saying thank you and waving
dark though it is

From W.S. Merwin’s The Rain In The Trees (Knopf, 1988)

Joan Chittister: Ten Thoughts on Thanksgiving

Babettes Feast fruit pic
Scene from film "Babette's Feast"

Whether you will be wrapped in the loving chaos of family on Thanksgiving or eating turkey burgers with friends at a local dive or serving bird with all the fixings at church or the local soup kitchen, I pour out the blessing of gratitude on all your heads. Here are thoughts from Benedictine sister and writer Joan Chittister for you to carry with you:

1. It’s important to dot our lives with unscheduled as well as scheduled feast days. That way we remember that we are able to make joy as well as to expect it. Or as Lin Yutang, the Chinese philosopher put it: “Our lives are not in the lap of the gods, but in the lap of our cooks.”

2. Food and feasting are the things that remind us of the unending glory, the limitless love, of God. Voltaire said of it: “Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.”

3. A Jewish proverb teaches us that “Worries go down better with soup.” Treating food as a sacrament rather than a necessity reminds us that, in the end, there is always more good in life than bad. The trick is to notice it.

4. To love good food is a measure of our love of life. Food preparation teaches us to do everything we can to make life palatable, spicy, comforting, full of love.

5. Sitting down to a meal with the family—table set, food hot, salad fresh, water cold, dishes matched and food served rather than speared—may be the very foundation of family life in which we celebrate our need for one another. The loss of the family feast may do more to loosen the family bonds than any other single dimension of family life.

6. One purpose of feasting is to get back in touch with the earth that sustains us, to glorify the God that made it and to pledge ourselves to save the land that grows our food.

7. In this country, we are conditioned to think that taking time to eat together, to make a meal an event rather than an act, takes time from the important things of life. That may be exactly why we are confused now about what the important things of life really are. “Happiness,” Astrid Alauda writes, “is a bowl of cherries and a book of poetry under a shade tree.”

8. Good food is the hallmark of every season: fresh fruit in summer, roasted chestnuts in the fall, warm bread in winter, oyster stew in the spring. Leslie Newman says of it. “As the days grow short, some faces grow long. But not mine. Every autumn, when the wind turns cold and darkness comes early, I am suddenly happy. It’s time to start making soup again.” Good food is the sacrament of life everlasting.

9. Food doesn’t have to be exotic to be wonderful. Peasant societies give us some of the best meals ever made. It is always simple, always the same—and always different due to the subtle changes of sauce and cooking style that accompany it. As the Polish say: “Fish, to taste right, must swim three times—in water, in butter and in wine.”

10. To be feasted is to be loved outrageously.

Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB