A Thanksgiving Blessing


I began writing Matrignosis in March of 2010. This post, A Thanksgiving Blessing, was published on November 23 of that year. It was a time of renewed hope and joy at the wondrous blessing of having five grandchildren. They’re nine years older now, and I’m so thankful to be able to tell you that they’re all well and thriving. My beloved granddog Bear, is gone, but memories of him still warm my heart. We have a new granddog now, and Izzy holds a special place of her own in our hearts. 

Here’s the original post, slightly revised, from November 23 of 2010.

Years ago when The Bridge to Wholeness: A Feminine Alternative to the Hero Myth was first published, I presented several workshops about the differences between the life cycles of men and women. Using the model of the ancient descent myths which preceded hero myths and often featured women whose journeys followed a pattern of sacrifice, suffering, death, and rebirth — for example, the Sumerian myth of Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth — I encouraged participants to reflect on how they had experienced these stages in their own lives.

My purpose was threefold. First, I wanted them to understand the differences between how their feminine and masculine sides experience life, and to know that both are valid and worthy of our attention. Second, I wanted to guide them in an experience of inner work that would expand their self-knowledge. Third, I wanted them to appreciate the repetitive nature of life’s processes so that they might acquire trust that each ending, even the death of the body, is also a threshold to a hopeful new beginning.

One memory from those workshops stands out from the others. Having experienced a lengthy and painful death-like period in the middle of my life, I was speaking about the hope and gratitude that had followed it when a psychiatrist asked me a question. “I have a client who is a deeply depressed and bitter quadriplegic,” she told us. “He can’t do anything for himself. He will spend the rest of his life this way. He is not religious. What hope can I give him about rebirth? What should he be grateful for?”

The room was silent. My first thoughts were, Who am I to be talking about rebirth when I’ve never had a death experience remotely like the one this man is suffering at this very moment? What kind of hope does he have? I had an answer, but in that moment I couldn’t think how to express it in a way that wouldn’t sound flippant. I felt very humbled and remember sharing that emotion, but have no recollection of what else I said. I’ve carried that question with me ever since and would like to answer it to the best of my ability now, just in case that doctor or patient, or someone like them, might someday find my thoughts helpful.

If you are reading this post on the day of its publication two days before Thanksgiving, I am on a plane headed for Viet Nam, Laos, and Cambodia, sites of some of the most horrendous killing fields on the planet. There, vast numbers of human beings suffered and died in ways I cannot imagine or bear to think about. What was left for them to be grateful for in their last moments?

Life. They had Sophia’s sacred spark of Life. Until their last breaths they had traces of sensory awareness, memories, thoughts, feelings. Perhaps they saw the sunlight sparkle on a blade of grass, felt a cool breeze, remembered the taste of chocolate ice cream or the feel of a mother’s tender touch, experienced a rush of love for their lovers, children, or grandchildren.

You and I have Life. We have the capacity to be conscious of it and present to it in this moment. We can choose to let go of the past, stop worrying about the future, and attend to what is. Here. Now. Life within us, life around us. What could be more worthy of thanks?

No matter where you are or what you are suffering, you can be present to the miracle of being alive in this precious moment, this perfect Now. May your awareness bring you hope and gratitude this Thanksgiving Day and in the days to come.

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10 Responses

  1. Thank you for this reminder of the presence of life Jeanie. We can so easily forget. I am so gratefull that a recent long trip away from home, brought me home, safely, yesterday.
    I visited Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam some years ago and Susan (American) and I visited those cemeteries, gardens and tunnels in acknowledgement of lives lost. It was very moving – I can feel the sadness in my heart now as I write.
    Safe travels, and Happy Thanksgiving.

    1. Thanks, Susan. It was an amazing trip and the memory of that part of it still brings deep sadness to me too.
      I know it’s spring where you are, and that always brings thoughts of fresh new life. Nature has a way of mirroring our inner lives. Or is it the other way around? 🙂
      Either way, presence brings hope and joy. Warm thanksgiving blessings from me to you, regardless of the season! Jeanie

  2. Thank you so much Jeanie for reposting another dazzling jewel! Today, you remind us all of Sophia’s sacred spark and the beauty and wisdom gifted to us by (Mother) Nature. 2019 has been the richest year of my life thus far as I turned my attention to the rhythms and seasons of the year.
    After reading your own blessing, I feel truly humbled before life and full of thanksgiving, even for the dark, difficult moments … especially the dark, difficult moments! Such is the power, beauty and grace of your words.
    I hope I can recollect and connect to love, healing and happiness before I take my last breath and not die full of anger, bitterness and depression. And if I do die without love, I hope that my experience will be transformed as I enter the next realm or stage of life.
    John Donohue’s words are a gift to the world. So beautifully written! I have a couple of his books, my favourite being, “Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom” a book that is beautiful in every way. Warm autumnal blessings, Deborah.

    1. I love communicating with poets! There’s always such power and beauty in your words. And thank you for the compliment re. my writing. It means so much coming from you.
      Death seems to be very much with me these days too. Like you, I often think of wanting to die with peace and joyful presence to whatever comes next. May it be so for both of us. With love, gratitude, and warmest thanksgiving wishes, Jeanie

  3. Oh, how lovely to hear from another favorite poet!
    Yes, “Sometimes it is so hard.” Yet, other times it is so easy and beautiful. These times come and go with me… sometimes changing like the seasons, sometimes like day turning into night and then into day again, sometimes from one hour to the next.
    Yet here I am. Still filled with life. And at the moment, feeling very grateful. For you and all my friends. For my family. For my mind and dreaming and seeing and hearing and walking and eating and reading and writing and communicating with beloved like minds. No, nothing worthwhile is ever easy. But it’s worth hanging on to. 🙂
    Thanksgiving blessings, my friend.

  4. Thank you, Jeanie! Oh, how I miss our Matrix hours of planning and deep conversation! This message has lifted my heart. While all is very well in my life, I have been in a period of transition with my role at the school and feeling a bit adrift. Your message is such a profound yet simple reminder of the joy and wonder available to us every moment! Have a glorious Thanksgiving…and I send love and thanks for having you in my life. Beth

  5. Dear Beth,
    It’s so good to hear from you. We did have a wonderful ten years of planning and deep conversation and producing valuable work together, didn’t we?
    I’m glad to hear all is well with you. I know how difficult these periods of transition can be. You were in one during the Matrix years, when your heart was wrestling with the call to found your school, and you ended up creating something extraordinary and original, something only you could have done. And now you’re transitioning out of that role into a very different one that is still unclear. I know how tough it is not to be in that familiar role any more, not to know what step to take next, or where it will take you, or how you will live it.
    I think we just do it one step at a time, staying mindful of where we are, and what’s happening in us, and what we need to do to make our life more meaningful and beautiful right where we are. And we just keep walking.
    I’m so glad to have shared so much of my path with you. Thank you, and thanksgiving blessings to you, my dear friend. Jeanie

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