Thanksgiving: the elephant, the ant and the Monarch butterfly
- Category: Holidays and Special Occasions
"God blooms from the shoulder of the elephant who becomes courteous to the ant."
It’s a time to reflect on the gifts we’ve received from Earth, Sky, Water, Sun and Darkness. It’s a time to acknowledge in our minds and hearts the gifts we’ve received from individuals, groups, communities, organizations and governments. It’s a time to acknowledge plants, animals and all living beings who give to us with their spirits, their lives, their beauty, their energies and life force to maintain this planet and all who live here.
And it’s a time to contemplate and appreciate our individual portion of the giving for which others can give thanks.
When the ritual of Thanksgiving is filled with personal meaning and shared gratitude this is a beautiful day regardless of your situation. You may be surrounded by loving family and friends. Perhaps you are not. You may be in a stressful environment. You may be alone. You may feel sad or in pain or perhaps you are lighthearted. Then again you may be overworked and sleep deprived in your attempt to fulfill the demands of your particular perspective of Thanksgiving.
But if you give your Thanksgiving ritual your grateful attention, you can have a rich experience that nurtures your spirit and gives the people and beings around you an opportunity to discover their own inner joys.
You live on a living planet. You are never alone. Life is all around you. And that life gives you food, water, light and sweet darkness. That life gives you flesh, skin and bone.
And that life gives you protection and delight.
Pause for a while and see the full world you live in and on. Pay attention to the wonders that are given you every day, every minute that support your life.
Monarch butterflies are in trouble. Pollution, urban life and climate change are assaulting their species. Monarch butterflies delight me. I’m grateful to them and the joy I experience watching them, more rarely now, fluttering in my bougainvillea.
A few weeks ago I planted two milk weed plants in my back garden. I’ve been told Monarch butterflies love them. Last week I discovered one fat Monarch caterpillar munching away on the leaves. Today I saw three on one plant and two on another.
I’m joyous. I’m in awe that my new little plants were found so quickly. Walking my dogs I met a neighbor and told him my garden news. His nine year old daughter listened with rapt attention and passionately asked her father if they could plant milk weed to attract and help the Monarchs. He said, “That’s a good idea. We could pick up one today at the nursery.”
My joy and gratitude and awe grew. So my thankfulness diffuses out to the many forms of life and what supports life. And my thankfulness narrows down to a focus. Monarch caterpillars are thriving in my garden and the butterflies will hatch in their time.
That brings me to where I started. The earth, water, sun, darkness, the planet rotating on its axis in space, so many people who grow and tend seeds that turn into plants and then take them to my nursery are involved in my gratitude.
Plus, I’m now grateful for the heart of a child and her sense of wonder that leads her to want to grow milkweed for the Monarchs. I’m grateful for a kind and generous Dad who will take her to the nursery to get her own milkweed to plant.
I could write pages about the trail of gratitude left by this one little incident.
What trails of gratitude can you discover as part of your Thanksgiving Day?
About the picture. It’s a painting on canvas from India that hangs in my working office. I see it now on the wall as I write this. She’s been mine for about 35 years and still makes me smile.
In my little garden story I suppose I’m the elephant and the Monarch caterpillar is the ant.
- Who or what has been the courteous elephant to you when you are the ant?
- Who or what has been the ant when you are the courteous elephant?
Happy Thanksgiving, my friends.