"The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth" (1914) By Jennie A. Brownscombe | Image courtesy of Wikipedia

This is the day we Americans celebrate abundance with feasts great and modest, with a multitude of football games from high school right on up to the pros, and with the traditional falling asleep on sofas and recliners, stuffed as surely as was the Thanksgiving turkey. And like the name says, we give thanks.

We give thanks for the food, of course, and the cooks, and our families and our friends, and possessions, and higher values, and just about anything we can think of that can be spoken of in less time than it takes for the potatoes to get cold. If you live in my neck of the woods, it’s possible that Thanksgiving isn’t a big deal because it’s deer hunting season. Folks might be hunting down abundance for which success they will be most thankful.

In the past I’ve given thanks for everything referred to, except for shooting a deer. Today I’d like to give thanks for an epiphany that redirected my life.

About 8 years ago, when I awoke from a nightmare at 3 am, I was in the throes of intense emotional anguish. This wasn’t the first time I’d had that experience. I asked myself why could I not simply escape from these awful feelings. It turned out that Myself wasn’t able to offer much help.

Then I silently asked, just asked, into the nighttime space of infinite darkness, that this pain be taken away. And it was instantly gone. Gone as sure as could be. Gone like a toothache under novocaine, deleted like a computer file, erased like a dirty whiteboard. I was in a place of unquestionable stillness. I flipped back into the state I had been in before making my request. The pain was still there in full force. I flipped into the peacefulness again, and for the first time I understood the Biblical reference to the peace that passes all understanding.

I got up and sat in the soft chair in my den. The silence worked there, too. The emotional turmoil around the nightmare was part of a complicated tangle of details and feelings that I don’t have space to describe here.

This event led me back into meditation. That night I was relieved of feelings of anger and helplessness. An inner place had opened up for me. Being had become a more profound state than I had ever known before.

The source for all of this lay in one thing, that which I am thankful for today, the absolute, profound, indescribable, sacred, Silence.