Thanksgiving for the earth – a prayer, poems and passages


Please take a moment out of the madness that is the Thanksgiving holiday/Iron Bowl weekend and read the following inspirational prayer, poems and passages about our natural wonders here in Alabama and the South.

Have a nature-filled, meaningful, memorable, and joyful Thanksgiving.

“… Praise Thee, wondrous God for the blessed watershed that is Alabama, pliant to man’s needs, gracious to his questing spirit. May her sons and daughters not forget Thy bounty, nor fail to deserve Thy benediction through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen”  ~From the state of Alabama Prayer at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC.

“Walking through fields smelling the wildflowers, touching the ancient oaks, poplars and pines, I learned wonder. Drinking from a fresh water spring, I learned purity. Fishing with a simple cane pole, I learned contemplation and patience. Feeling the dirt and pine straw between my toes, I learned the wilderness is part of me – I cannot and never will separate myself from its beauty and peacefulness…

Part of the problem we have in our society, particularly in urban centers, is that we don’t lose ourselves to what is natural. In our rush to progress technologically and to grow economically, we sometimes forget about the things that give people a sense of fulfillment and happiness. People have busy lives and difficult priorities raising families, educating their children, trying hard to get ahead. But it shouldn’t be an either/or choice when it comes to protecting wilderness. We must be willing to move beyond our selves and our problems and consider the larger impact of our actions and legacy we leave for our children. If we don’t, we will lose part of our humanity we can’t replace…” ~ Alabama native and civil rights leader Congressman John Lewis

Photo by Sara Bright
Photo by Sara Bright

Let us put our minds together and give thanks
for the life we’ve been given,
for the chance to dream and wake and go out
among the meadow beauty, raising its many
velvet faces toward the sun.

For the cypress standing in sleepy congregations
like cloaked women in prayer.
For cubbyholes and cavities, grass beds and hollow
tupelos, for branch forks and underbanks.

For the open throats of pitcher plants
singing like bog frogs in the dusk.
For wild persimmon and huckleberry and hickory nut,
cattail and Ogeechee lime.

For reefs of flowers sweetly exhaling.
For beakers of rain poured liberally
from an archangel sky, the alchemy of rivers and bogs.
And thank the lightning that sparks heaven’s love for earth,
conductor of fire.

Let us put our minds together and give thanks
for all the two leggeds and four-leggeds and six-leggeds,
the many leggeds and the no-leggeds,
near to far.

Let us especially thank the two who gave us life.
And thank Mother Earth, Elder Brother Sun,
Grandmother Moon, Sister Star, Families, Safe Journeys.

Let us put our minds together and give thanks.

~ Poem by Janisse Ray, From Pinhook, Finding Wholeness in a Fragmented Land


“… Each tree– each forest — has its own song and we must listen. And while we are listening and unraveling the mysteries and gifts of the trees, we should always take a moment to sit under a tree, look up and be thankful.”  ~ Chuck Leavell, Alabama native, conservationist and pianist for the Rolling Stones


“What a joy it is to feel the soft, springy earth under my feet once more, to follow grassy roads that lead to ferny brooks where I can bathe my fingers in a cataract of rippling notes, or to clamber over a stone wall into green fields that tumble and roll and climb into riotous gladness!” ~Helen Keller 

Thousands of sandhill cranes at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge
Thousands of sandhill cranes at the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.

I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free ~ Wendell Berry 


Pat Byington
Pat Byington

Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.

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