For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.
~ By Ralph Waldo Emerson
This is one of my favorite Thanksgiving poems. In four short lines, Emerson covers the bases: if our basic needs are being met, we have a reason for being and a cause to be grateful. By taking Emerson’s sentiments to heart, we can truly appreciate what we often take for granted.
For each new morning with its light To wake up each morning is to have another opportunity to experience life. We know that when we open our eyes, we have been given another day to discover and realize our purpose. We have the chance to give and receive love and kindness, and feel happiness. Even after we’ve had a bad day, we can still appreciate that we were given the opportunity to think, breathe, feel, and experience life in a human body in this physical world. As mortal human beings, we understand that one day we will not. To rise up from bed in the morning is to know that this day is not that day.
For rest and shelter of the night How fortunate it is to have a roof over our heads and a place to rest comfortably! To be free of worry for our safety, and to be protected from the elements as we slumber, allows us to get the rest our bodies need, and focus our attention and energy on using our talents to create a fuller life. Without the benefit of a safe shelter, we would have to focus all our energy on survival. To have rest and shelter is to have security and respite from the unforgiving aspects of the natural world.
For health and food… When we feel well and we have enough to eat, we function at our best. But the moment we fall ill, we instantly appreciate the good health we took for granted. It is the same with food. Most of us do not know what it is to go hungry. We have access to food whenever we want. This is something that so many in the world do not have. To have our health and to have food to fuel are bodies is to have vitality, the ability to care for ourselves, and the potential to accomplish our dreams.
…for love and friends To have family and friends is to have a support group to encourage and care for us. With that support group, we know that we are not alone in this world. The love we receive brings us comfort and assurance of the goodness inherent in humanity. It inspires us to give our love to those closest to us and to all living things.
For everything Thy goodness sends In this line, Emerson recognizes that we, as human beings, are dependent on a source outside of ourselves to support and sustain our lives on Earth. Whether we believe in God or Allah, or many gods, or in a Universal Force, or maybe in none of these, we are not able to thrive without the many supports we are given from each moment to moment in our daily lives. At the start, the miracle of our journey into this world is not of our own doing, but of a force greater than ourselves. When we consider the forces that cause our cells to divide, specialize, and grow until we are formed into perfect little beings full of life, we must recognize, ultimately, that our very existence is one that is supported and nurtured. We receive so many blessings that come to us in so many forms. If we take a moment in each day to acknowledge those blessings we have received, we will come to understand and appreciate how fortunate we truly are.