Returning to a surprisingly sunny Belfast this week after spending 5 days at the Thanksgiving World Assembly in Thanksgiving Square in Dallas has left me feeling grateful. I am grateful to have been invited, I am grateful to have been listened to by the academics and scholars who attended, and I am grateful to be me.
Dallas is a stiflingly hot place in Mid-July. It was 100 degrees in the shade and muggy, in fact it is just the place to have a green oasis in the middle of commercial downtown with a garden, a cool chapel and running water features. Thanksgiving Square is a lovely place and if I took leave of my senses and moved to Dallas, I would undoubtedly spend my lunchtimes sitting there enjoying the tranquility and my fat -free, non-dairy, half-caf-frappuchino with the other non- Texans who love the sunshine.
It was great to finally see Thanksgiving Square after listening to my mother talk about it for twenty years, and while I feel I learned a few things and I really enjoyed meeting the other - and infinately more learned- delegates I am still unsure as to the purpose of it. We established, over the course of two days of endless chat, that all major world faiths have an expression of Thanksgiving. We learned that they are all different but share common threads.This was not news to me.
I did not feel any more thankful in a hot garden in Dallas than I do in my own. I am a thankful person, not just to the taxi drivers, the beauticians, the airline staff, the friends and colleagues who make my life easier evey day just by being there. I make a point of being thankful for the rain, the security of my own bed, the health and happiness of my growing daughter, my dog's protective bark, my clanky car, my loving family. It is important to me to be thankful, it makes me better, and the world better
One of my colleagues said, as a comment , to show true thanksgiving we must give. Myrtle Smyth, founder of Thanksgiving Square in Belfast was a giver. Her joy was in receiving things, being grateful for them, loving and enjoying them and passing them on. My home is full of beautiful things given with love from her. I have big shoes to fill.
The Angel of Thanksgiving statue in Belfast's Laganside is beautiful, and iconic. it is a symbol of gratitude for everything that is passed and real hope for the future.Is that all we can do with it? Answers on a postcard please......