Along Life's Road

Being thankful

“O give thanks unto the Lord for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” – Psalm 107:1

Today, Thanksgiving Day in America is about the biggest of celebrations as it gathers families in the millions not only from home but abroad. They continue the tradition of being thankful since the time of the Pilgrim Fathers arrival to the shores of America.

Today, I share with you an article by Kathy Stephenson of the Salt Lake Tribune in 2003 with the headline “Saying Grace is a ritual around the world”. But in all truth, we are here in our little neck of the wood, grateful for what God has done for us!

“Whether the meal was hunted with a bow and roasted over a wood fire or purchased at a supermarket and cooked atop a modern day stove, the desire to give thanks for the food we eat crosses all generations and cultures.

Saying grace is as simple as declaring “too-guey-ak,” the Ute Indian word for ‘thanks’, or complex, like the Jewish faith’s “birkat hamazon,” a combination of four blessings said after meals.

It can be solemn: “Give us this day our daily bread,” or light hearted: “Good bread, good meat, good God, let’s eat.”

“Saying grace, however it is done, is one of the things that is truly universal,” says Sarch McElwain, who compiled the new book “Saying Grace: Blessings for the Family Table”.

While prayers before a meal are a daily ritual for many religious families, holiday gatherings, like Thanksgiving and Christmas compel more of us to bow our heads and take inventory of our good fortune.

For American Indians, saying thanks has been an integral part of daily life for centuries, health director at Salt Lake City’s Indian Walk-In Center.

From the Wmpananong Indians who dined with the New England settlers in 1621, to the tribes who roamed Utah’s Great Basin, dinner was a time to be grateful. After all, food was often scarce and required the work of a skilled hunter, fisherman or forager, says Smith, an expert on American Indian medicine, songs and prayers.

The prayers always express gratitude to the Creator, but also remember the spirit of the animal that has given its life.

“Our prayers always remind us of our smallness in the universe and to recognize that we have this connection for everything that is good,” Smith says. Here is an example from “Saying Grace”: “Now that I am about to eat, O Great Spirit, give my thanks to the beasts and birds whom you have provided for my hunger: and pray deliver my sorrow that living things must make a sacrifice for my comfort and well-being. Let the feather of corn spring up in its time and let it not wither but make full grains for the fires of our cooking pots, now that I am about to eat. American Indian Grace.”

Sometimes giving thanks is not about words but silent thoughts and actions. A common Quaker grace asks everyone to join hands for a moment of silence. Members of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox faiths make the sign of the cross, and Jews have a silent hand-washing benediction, done at the table with a pitcher of water in preparation for eating bread.

But that pre-meal prayer is brief compared to the longer Jewish blessing that takes place when the meal is complete, says Jackie Osherow, an English Professor at the University of Utah. The unique timing means everyone recognizes that this meal comes from God.

This article ties in so much, and believe me I was looking through my archives and found this, with what came into my spirit as I recently visited foreign markets and saw the bountiful abundance of fruits, vegetables and countless varieties of fish and meats, beautifully and artistically displayed, and then to cross deep waters for eight days, seeing mountains rising out of the ocean, nonchalant clouds floating aimlessly and twinkling stars, like diamonds against the backdrop of a midnight sky! I gave God all the thanks, praise and glory!

On this Thanksgiving Day, are we aware that when we or let me say, mankind, was created to be a part of this world, that all we need was already prepared for us, including the air we breathe! Then, why are we so unkind and not giving and caring? Did not the Creator say that we brought nothing into this world and hence we cannot carry anything out?

He can take what we have from us or take us from what we have! We give you Thanks!

• E-mail,, write to P.O. Box 19725 SS Nassau, Bahamas with your prayer requests, concerns and comments. God’s blessings.

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