To Whom Do We Give Thanks

Three days before Thanksgiving and two weeks from the start of final exams, over 120 ever-busy Georgetown students, faculty, and staff gathered in Copley Formal Lounge for our annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Banquet on Monday, November 24th. In the midst of preparing for travel, studying for final exams, and wrapping up the semester, the Georgetown community is never too busy to stop and give thanks.

This year, we chose to focus not only on what we are thankful for, but also to whom we give thanks. Fr GregThanksSo often during Thanksgiving we focus on what we are grateful for – a table full of food, a warm and safe home, loving friends and family, good health, or a quality education – and this is very important. Acknowledging what we are thankful for reminds us how fortunate we are and draws our attention to all of the positive things in our lives. But those things don’t come from nowhere.

At the banquet, we encouraged people to not only be thankful, but to also give thanks – the difference being that thankfulness is a feeling whereas giving thanks is an action. In giving thanks, we direct our gratitude and thanks to someone or something in particular; we acknowledge the source, the provider, the benefactor to whom we give thanks. And in doing this, we recognize that the good things 15296192194_2729062aca_zin life do not come from nowhere. For every table full of food, for every safe home, for every education, there is someone or something to give thanks. Though we may each acknowledge different sources of blessings, as evidenced by responses from the Georgetown community, we all know and agree that there is always someone we can thank.

In an interfaith prayer, six students representing six different traditions shared with us to whom they give thanks for life’s blessings. In the Jewish tradition, it was “Adonai, Whose Name is Goodness, and to Whom it is fitting to give thanks.” In the Buddhist tradition, food is viewed as “the gift of the whole universe” and in the Quran is it said, “whatever of blessings and good things you have, it is from Allah.”15731114780_121dbdd21c_z In the Christian tradition, thanks are given to God, and in Hinduism, the Supreme Being. And from a poem written by Nobel Laureate and agnostic, Pablo Neruda, thanks are given to the very idea of thanks itself. Because “the world is a threatening place until thanks makes the rounds from one pair of lips to another.”

Sarah Holland (new window), Inter-religious Coordinator