Happily, joyfully, living in Amida’s Light.
Live each day gratefully in Amida Buddha’s Light
Bringing us all together, joining our hearts as One, hands
In Gassho together, all life is one. Happily, joyfully, living
In Amida’s Light. Bow our heads gratefully, Namo Amida Butsu,
Gatha “Joyful in Amida’s Light” composed by Donna Sasaki
There are many icons that symbolize November. Of course there is the traditional turkey, which has become a favorite meal for some. Then there is the pumpkin pie and the all-joyful gathering of friends and family. Some of us will share a meal similar to the first Thanksgiving of pilgrims and Native Americans.
These pilgrims left their home country possibly for several reasons. One was of government rule and the other was in search of a new beginning. They came to a new land unprepared and it was the Native Americans who taught them to survive cruel winters and to be self-sufficient. These Natives became teachers and shared compassion and wisdom to help those who were ignorant of life in a new environment.
It is said that the first Thanksgiving was the sharing of the harvest. This meal was the start of a new life and true gratitude of the Pilgrims’ progress and being thankful to new friends. History has changed many traditions and life has changed from the traditional meaning. The day after Thanksgiving we begin to count down to the next favorite time of year. However, this Thanksgiving we can be grateful for the initial sharing, hearing, and learning.
At times we take this holiday as drudgery because of meal preparation and chores that has to be done for the holiday. Yet when we are gathered, there is laughter, happiness, smiles, dessert, and football. I watch the Thanksgiving parade so I can see the finale of the little ol’ man in red. But how many times do we sit and think about what we are grateful for? Is it just a holiday for us to gather or to truly see how far we have come and what had been shared by all generations?
As we sit and prepare to feast on the delicious meal, it is our Itadakimasu that communicates what we are thankful for. In this one phrase we are sharing our gratitude to all things that had given their lives to nourish our body and to share our Namu Amida Butsu for the warmth, compassion, and wisdom of generations before us. When we put our palms together and recite together both Nembutsu and Itadakimasu, we are hearing and following the teachings of our ancestors and Buddha.
Our ancestors were also pilgrims. They ventured to a foreign land and faced many struggles and sorrows. However, they also shared and taught us to appreciate the many things shared and given by others. It is our day of Thanksgiving and it is our Namu Amida Butsu and Itadakimasu that expresses our humility. We bow our heads in respect and for just a moment our self-centered self is forgotten. As we keep an eye on the food before us, we meditate on the actions of our parents, grandparents, and all who made us who and what we are. We are thankful for their guidance and direction. We give thanks for teaching us to follow the path of Jodo Shinshu.
It is with warm heart and mind that I wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving! If traveling or just staying home, be careful and share thanks by putting our palms together in Gassho.
Gassho Rev. Seijo Naomi Nakano