Thursday, November 22, 2007

Saying grace

(This is a repeat of my Thanksgiving post last year, with a reprise of Anne's Thanksgiving art.)

I thank you God for this most amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and for the blue dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.
There was a time as a teenager when I thought e. e. cummings was, like, uh, you know, a terrific poet. My taste today runs more to the likes of Howard Nemerov, but -- what the heck -- let's drag out old Edward Estlin for our Thanksgiving prayer.

Can one be thankful for trees and sky if there is not a someone to be thankful to?

Maybe not a someone, but certainly a something. Here, now, around this table with the fat crispy bird and cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. Call it the Big M, for Mystery.

You don't hear much about gratitude from the sociobiologists or evolutionary psychologists. They have proposed an evolutionary basis for violence, altruism, religion, language, ethics, sexiness, and so on. Why not gratitude? Do children have to be taught to say thank you? Or do those words come naturally to our lips, as I suspect they came to Edward Estlin's lips one especially fine blue day. There are times when one simply feels an overwhelming gratitude that seems to well up from some primitive part of the brain, some overflowing pool of unarticulated appreciation. It may be that people invented the gods at least partly to have someone to be thankful to. That is to say, gratitude may not be a response to God so much as God is a response to gratitude.

So, thank you, God, for this most amazing day.

Thank you for those who read and comment here. I wish I could invite them all in from the porch to join us around the table.

Thank you for sister Anne, on her western mesa, for her weekly illuminations (click to enlarge). And for all artists and poets.

Thank you for son Tom, who makes Science Musings work.

Thank you for Pelagius, John Scotus Eriugena, Meister Eckhart, Joan of Arc, Giordano Bruno, Galileo Galilee, Charles Darwin, Teilhard de Chardin, Rachel Carson, and all the other heretics over the ages who have challenged accepted dogma.

Thank you for the residue theorem of complex variable analysis.

Thank you for that C-major fortissimo chord in Haydn's Creation Oratorio and all that it represents.

That is to say, thank you for quarks. And for galaxies.

And for the heart-thumping, head-spinning choreography of the double helix.

And -- speaking of DNA -- thank you for our four spectacular children and their spouses and children who join us at table or in spirit today.