What Thanks O Lord can I render thee for all the gifts thou has showered on me; each day I will sing of Thy Praise and Glory, Allelu, Alleluia!”, are the beautiful lyrics of a oft used hymn that we have been and continue to sing with full gusto expressing our thanks to God in churches around the world.
In central Europe this is the season of what is called in German, ‘Erntedankfest’ or Thanksgiving for the harvest. Despite the tremendous scientific progress that the world has made, which in its wake has also ushered in a sense of the loss of the Divine in people’s day to day living, the one ancient festival which continues to be faithfully celebrated in most of the countries of the world is of ‘Thanksgiving to God’ our creator for the fruits of the harvest. It is interesting to see the people who don’t frequent the church at other times of the year, show up in their traditional dresses for the Sunday/s when the Thanksgiving is celebrated. It is even more fascinating to see how those people who during the year are busy tweaking their fast running cars and updating either modern social media gadgets or contraptions are seen around churches dedicating their time and finding ways to decorate the ‘Erntedankfest’ cart. This cart then accompanied by music is carried in a procession into the church.
While in Canada and North America this big feast of ‘Thanksgiving’, will be celebrated only next month, in Korea and in some other parts of Asia it is celebrated in October. In India too it is celebrated at different times in different parts. For instance in Kerala they have the harvest feast of Onam and Monthifest in Karnataka in September; in Tamilandu Pongal in January; Lohri in Punjab and Makkar Sakranti in rest of North India in the beginning of the year.
Despite different religions, cultures, languages, climates, time zones and regions of the world, one thing that is common to a large portion of humanity is its sense of thanksgiving to the Lord almighty, as the hymn says, “for the gifts thou hast showered on me (us)”.
God’s gifts through nature are meant for all of us and are given freely through His/Her generosity to us humans sojourning this earth. The air, water, sunshine, rain, fruits, flowers, birds, fishes, stars and several other products of nature have no religion. “Is that why they live in peace and are able to produce their fruits in abundance”, is something that we could all fruitfully contemplate on?
Our thanksgiving to God for these gifts can be also ‘religion-less’, requiring only a grateful heart to the provider, without which it would be impossible for us to survive even a single day on this planet. Thank You Lord.