Saturday, November 27, 2021

Keeping Thanksgiving…every day of the year



My ancestor David Martin died November 10, 1784, in what is now Lancaster County Pennsylvania.  Born into conflict of church and state in the inhospitable city of Zurich in 1691, at the age of 26 he was to see his father lost to 15 years in prison for standing against state tyranny as an outspoken critic of state propaganda.  Never knowing whether he would see his father again, he took a one-way trip to Pennsylvania and carved the Martin family name into American history – the son of a heretic.


In discussions around our dining room table in the early 1970s, I recall my father’s moral conflict with then-Governor Ronald Reagan’s requirement that all teachers in colleges and universities in California sign a loyalty oath.  For centuries, the faith of our family prohibited the pledging of oaths based on the mandate attributed to Jesus in Matthew 5:34, “
But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne”.  While countless others had wiggled their way around this by taking the court-authorized bypass of “affirming” testimony, I recall my father (in consultation with my illustrious maternal grandfather William Parsons) wrestling with the recognition that these had the same effect under the law and therefore didn’t pass moral muster.  When we left California to return to the Martin enclave in Pennsylvania, one of the reasons for our migration across the country was my father’s unwillingness to swear fealty to a government mandate.


While certainly not a 15-year prison term Trachselwald Castle in the Canton of Bern, Switzerland, I watched my father – the same man who went to peace marches in protest of the Vietnam War; the same man who welcomed drug-addicted college students into our home; the same man who would bring strangers to Thanksgiving dinners – extinguish his predilections to being the heretic under the weight of conformity.  And it is with great irony that the same faith that refused to let their babies be baptized by the Lutheran and Catholic churches now rushes to roll up their sleeves for the bioweapon promoted by the State!  In the 1,667 years of Martins who stood against imperial tyranny, we now find our familial tradition acquiescing to fear at long last…ALMOST.


Like all generations that came before, it is not the masses – be they family, community, faith, or tribe – who steel their resolve against the inertial force of imperialists of land, mind, or soul.  While being named for the god of war (Mars), the vast majority of our clan have sought the pastural existence of tilling the earth, procreating, bordering on gluttony, and returning to the fertile ground from which the next year’s crop will emerge.  In every generation, there have been the heretics (and the almost heretics) who have taken a ‘road less traveled by’.  They have tasted death, exile, destitution, and loss but have found within themselves the indomitable essence that infuses their spirit in the face of opposition.  And while most never tasted acclaim, they have all advanced the cause of humanity.


As I heard the voices of small children call the invocation of Thanksgiving morning this year (the 1- and 5-year-old children of our guests), I reflected on the purity of this Thanksgiving morning.  I awoke in the loving embrace of my beautiful wife, who like the intrepid few who know the endless presence of fully living, crossed a sea to be with me in Virginia.  I prepared a feast bounteously enriched by the kindness of one of our Fully Live alumni and his organic farm.  The house warmed with the fragrance of steaming food and flowing drinks. 


And in each moment, I recognized that only one thing was lacking this year.  Sitting at the table with fellowship abuzz, I realized that missing from this Thanksgiving was the pretense of maintaining illusions of family and ‘friends’ that share nothing of common values.  I realized that being true to my celebration of Thanksgiving means to be in coherence with those past, present and future who embrace the perfection of each moment and are willing to stand in the full light of truth regardless of its popularity.  I was, in its truest sense, THANKFUL.


This year, my thanks are overflowing:


To the Church of Glad Tidings and its pastors Dave and Cheryl Bryan and Christo Hartman’s introduction to them;

To the alumni of the Fully Live workshops;

To the global community of Butterfly of the Week and Activate Humanity;

To Mikki Willis, his family and team for their tireless fellowship;

To the tireless kaleidoscope of friends across the globe who enliven my life; and,

To the remanent of family that values love over conformity…


I give thanks.