There is a reason why a day of Thanksgiving is celebrated late in the fall. In Canada it is celebrated in October. In the USA, it is celebrated in November.
For both countries it is related to the harvest season. Once the harvest is in, it is appropriate to celebrate the harvest itself. Some years will be better than others, but always it is good to give thanks for what we have been given by nature.
In one of his parables (Luke 12:16-21) Jesus tells the story of a rich land owner who had a bountiful harvest. Rather than share more of his bounty, he built bigger barns so he would not have to work as hard in the future. It has always struck me as important that Jesus says in the parable “the ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop.” He makes it clear that the earth itself was the reason for the bounty, not the virtue, genius or work of the rich man.
How often we forget our connection to the earth itself. We dig up ore, refine minerals, mix alloys and use the material of the earth to build our own buildings and infrastructure. We use up the earth itself to make our lives better and more comfortable. But left alone, nature will clean the atmosphere and produce food for us amazingly well.
This year, I pray we make the connection to the earth itself a central part of our Thanksgiving celebration. Then we ought to be mindful all the year through of the ways we use and abuse the earth. While we still have harvests to celebrate, let us concentrate less on building bigger barns and more on distributing the harvest we have in more equitable ways.
Then we can also work with nature, rather than against it, to develop living styles that do not hinder the earth’s ability to heal itself. Where and what we build, how we raise food and how much we travel all have much more impact than we realize. The earth is a gift that needs our diligent stewardship.