A Thanksgiving Prayer to the Ancestors

A Thanksgiving Prayer to the Ancestors

I originally wrote this for a Thanksgiving feast a few years back. It was a particularly difficult time after losing a friend around the same time the previous year. 

In order to cherish his memory, and to ask my family into sharing their fondest memories of lost friends and relatives, I decided to type up this draft to read to them.

It can easily be amended for different occasions, but something about its somber mood seems to make it most fitting to be read on the day of Thanksgiving.

I hope that you will consider sharing it with your family.

“Oh glorious and most bountiful creator, just as the breath of your spirit was blown into my lungs so that I may have life, so do I breathe life into this room in remembrance of you. Just as you have shelled out your blessings day by day so that I may continue to persevere, so do I impart my blessings in remembrance of you. Just as the crack of your lightning whip withdraws us from this daily womb of existence, so do I honor your presence so that one day my remembrance will withdraw my spirit into reconvening with you.

We pay reverence to those saintly bodies who have helped guide us through this thick matrix of reality: our parents, our grandparents, our lovers, and those radiant stars of this human family which over time we may have forgotten. We admire our ancestors who have taken up the call before the altar of obfuscation, those loved members of our kin who have irreversibly been pronounced deceased. If I could raise them up now, I would. But let us do so in our minds. Let us reflect on our love for those who are no longer with us. What memories do you have with these people?

I ask that those who have gone into the ever-after hold fast in our minds as we prepare to enjoy this feast, so that our pleasure in drink and nourishment becomes theirs. I ask that with every heaping spoonful we acknowledge what it means to still have a life, and to give thanks to the divine for keeping each member at this table still here with us today. I ask that this small act of love and compassion for one another here makes its way out into the world in order to heal and protect others through this difficult transition in the course of human history.

For those who are willing, I want to ask now that you come back to your memories of those who have passed. Here is your opportunity to bring light to those recollections. I want to ask that you truly visualize the faces of those loved ones. What expressions do they have? What are they doing? How old are they? Now, if I may ask that you go one step further. For those who feel comfortable enough, I want to ask that you share one of these memories with the rest of us. Please know that you’re not obligated to speak, and if you wish to hold onto these memories in quiet commemoration then you are more than welcome to. Though, if you do wish to share, this is an atmosphere of love.

(Would anyone like to go first?)

…………..

(Thank you to everyone.) 

As we cherish these stories in our hearts, revering the way that our loved ones once moved us to create such imprints on our minds, know that they still are alive with us. In this mirror of the mind, we breathe life into these souls, just as the creator has done for us. Perhaps even, we are presently living in the memories of each other, so that each one of us seated here today, surely salivating over this beautiful meal awaiting to be devoured, not only breathes life for others, but also into the hearts of one another.

Let us give thanks to those who have passed, how they have moved us and had the courage to go before us. But let us also give thanks to those who are sitting in this very room beside one another: siblings, cousins, lovers, aunts and uncles, parents, and grandparents, for how they sustain us, for how they compel us, and for simply choosing to be, so that we may take our fill of love each and every day we are in contact with them.

This is the heart of the sacred. This is what it means to give thanks without having to say it outright. This is that not-so-distant truth which the world seems to forget at times. We each carry the torch. We each are made from the ambitions of our ancestors. We each have the capacity to heal or to harm. Let us bring this message back out into the world.

Thank you to my family. Thank you to the spirits. Thank you to this food and drink. And thank you to the creator. May this feast make us fat and sassy and nourished enough to ensure that we are here for yet another day. Beloved creator, sustainer of our lives, we indulge upon this food and drink, and the loving conversation which surrounds it in remembrance of you.”

Blessings to you and your family.

Shane

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