A Celtic Approach to Thanksgiving
By Brian Epperly
Celtic spirituality exudes a sense of joyful gratitude that is often absent from our lives. Gratitude is one of the key Celtic virtues. Thanksgiving is the virtue of interdependence. It recognizes that we stand on the shoulders of others. Without the support of elders, family, friends, and teachers, we would be lost.
There are no self-made persons, who have created their health or wealth on their own. Life, for the ancient Celts, wasn’t always easy, but they trusted in the ultimate source of all gifts that grace every season of life. Thanksgiving revels in the beauty of life, and the Celts had a sense of beauty.
They lived in “radical amazement” as they pondered sea and stars. They saw spirit enlivening trees, oceans, animals, and our daily paths, where every soul is the anam cara who shows us our vocations and affirms our value in the earthly realms. In the rough and tumble life of early Celts, each comfort was a blessing and every action merited a blessing, whether milking the cow, building a fire, traveling to a distant place, or cooking a meal.
And in the circle of life, gratitude for our blessings inspires us to bless others. St. Brigid, who embodied the Divine Feminine in Celtic spirituality, knew that gratitude is grounded in appreciation and sharing. Our abundance does not fully belong to us; it is intended to uplift the vulnerable in our midst and delight the spirit of those whom we encounter, giving out of our abundance in response to the abundance we receive.
In the world St. Brigid imagines, everyone has enough because everyone is willing to share with their neighbor. Gratitude opens the future and gives us hope in turbulent times. When we are thankful, we trust that even in the wilderness, there is a wellspring of living waters and bread for the journey. As Dag Hammarskjold proclaims:
For all that has been – thanks. For all that shall be – yes.
Bruce Epperly is a theologian, spiritual guide, pastor, and author of twenty one books, including Process Theology: A Guideto the Perplexed, Holy Adventure: 41 Days of Audacious Living, Philippians: An Interactive Bible Study, and The Center is Everywhere: Celtic Spirituality for the Postmodern Age. He may be reached at email@example.com for lectures, workshops, and retreats.