This year, spending Thanksgiving in Baltimore, there was much to be grateful for. The opportunity to come together as a community and celebrate in a warm, loving, and safe environment is a privilege not extended to all the families living in our neighborhood. For me, it was a day to be thankful for all the members of my community. Watching us gathered in the kitchen making jokes and conversing while we scrambled to prepare dinner you would not have known that three months ago we had all been complete strangers. Amidst all the warmth and love, despite celebrating Thanksgiving away from my family, I felt as if I were home.
This year was the first time I had ever spent Thanksgiving away from my family, but to be honest, I hardly noticed the difference. The biggest reason for that was my community; we spent the whole day cooking, celebrating, and spending quality time together—not much different from what I would’ve been doing with my family. Each of us was able to bring some of our own families’ traditions to the table, which made it feel even more like we were at home.
The part that was different was feeling more involved in the meal-making process than I ever had before. I came into the year with very little cooking experience, so being able to contribute something I made all by myself for the first time—the cranberries—felt pretty awesome!
Thanksgiving in Baltimore was a very relaxing and joyful experience! I loved spending the afternoon with my community members cooking, listening to good music, and enjoying our homemade meal. We each contributed our favorite dish to create a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. It was a different kind of family celebration this year, but I was thankful to have such wonderful people to spend the holiday with. The five of us really embraced the experience and had a great day together!
Not seeing my family over the week of Thanksgiving was a strange adjustment; I do genuinely miss my family back in Minneapolis every day. Yet, after only being in Baltimore for three months, I know that if I had spent the holiday at home, I would have missed my BSVM community too. These four intelligent, silly, compassionate people really are my Baltimore family. I cherished the opportunity to cook a lethally buttery meal, to goofily dance around the kitchen, and to give thanks for many blessings with all of them. It is difficult to fathom a more lovable or compassionate group of humans with whom to share this holiday. I am so grateful to be here, living and serving and growing with them!
This Thanksgiving came with beautiful weather. By noon, several of us were outside for a run in our t-shirts. That being said, nature seems to have been an important theme for this year’s holiday. We bought our produce from the Baltimore Farmer’s Market and pre-ordered a free-range turkey. This was a clear and intentional splurge, something that existed in harmony with God’s creation. I truly appreciated our food, as we spent the afternoon cooking it in a kitchen big enough for the five of us to work in together.
Friday continued the trend of giving thanks over God’s creation. Hiking at Sugarloaf Mountain, I drank in the clean air, balanced on boulders, and felt the sun dancing on my cheeks as I moved through a brush speckled with the shadows of leaves and branches. At first I was annoyed by how busy it was. I started shifting my perspective. Here were many people, enjoying a day together outdoors. It is clear contrast to all that a consumer society tells us to do. Just last year, I was buying an interview suit during the Black Friday sales.
A beautiful conclusion to the weekend was a day trip to DC. At the National Museum of American Indians, I found my gratitude beautifully articulated in this Lakota Souix prayer, called Mitakuye Owasin, or “We Are All Related”. It follows:
To the Creator, for the ultimate gift of life, I thank you.
To the mineral nation that has built and maintained my bones and all foundations of life experience, I thank you.
To the plant nation that sustains my organs and body and gives me healing herbs for sickness, I thank you.
To the animal nation that feeds me from your own flesh and offers your loyal companionship in this walk of life, I thank you.
To the human nation that shares my path as a soul upon the sacred wheel of Earthly life, I thank you.
To the Spirit nation that guides me invisibly through the ups and downs of life and for carrying the torch of light through the Ages, I thank you.
To the Four Winds of Change and Growth, I thank you.
You are all my relations, my relatives, without whom I would not live. We are in the circle of life together, co-existing, co-dependent, co-creating our destiny. One, not more important than the other. One nation evolving from the other and yet each dependent upon the one above and the one below. All of us a part of the Great Mystery.
Thank you for this Life. ~