The Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center hosts 100-200 people each year for our Thanksgiving potluck and day-long celebration. The Thanksgiving celebration starts with a group meditation. Meditation is a perfect way to start a day focused on gratitude. It allows us to be present to the abundant, overflowing blessings in our lives. Not only that, meditation returns us to the place prior to thought and form, the “nothing”. Gabriel Cousens, a spiritual teacher of mine, teaches that the nothing is where the “something,” all that exists, comes from. On a day where our gratitude is usually associated with situations, people, things, and circumstances in the “something”, it is profound to touch in with the place prior to all that, to its source. “Everything comes from the Divine” and “everything the Divine does is for the best, for you” are profound teachings to meditate on for Thanksgiving.
After the group meditation finishes, the garden service project starts. During this service project, guests may plant, harvest, and help with other tasks in the garden. Why have a service project on Thanksgiving? The teaching is that “we receive in order to share.” All that we receive is ultimately receiving from the Universe, and we receive in order share, or to keep the energy circulating. When we receive for self alone, rather than to share, we are metaphorically “jamming up the circuitry” on an energetic and spiritual level. By offering service on Thanksgiving, we participate in a literal and symbolic act to acknowledge that we receive all the abundance in our lives in order give back and be of service.
The Thanksgiving feast itself consists of all organic, live food, plant-based-only potluck contributions from guests, as well as home-grown greens, sprouts, and other vegetables from the Tree of Life. Present at the potluck are live, plant-source only versions of stuffing, cranberry sauce, fudge, pecan pie, crackers, and much more. The feast begins after a blessing led, where participants unite in gratitude for the meal, the blessings in their lives, the gift of being able to be uplifted spiritually. The Thanksgiving feast also symbolizes a prayer for all the people of the world being fed and well-nourished. Eating a plant-based-only meal directly symbolizes this prayer, because the world can be fed seven times over if everyone were vegan. Thus, a few minutes during the blessing are taken to visualize the world’s people being fed, happy, healthy.