To rise, to rise each morning

with the faint glow of starlight on our backs

as we head into the joys, the surprises, the challenges of each day

sometimes with awe and wonder, perhaps expectation,

perhaps dread…


To rise, to rise each day peering over waterlines,

sandbags, walls, garbage, bunkers…

in wind swept deserts and streets

lined with sweet smelling olive trees alike

What a gift we are given when we can rise

in freedom, of some sort, to some degree.


This year, for once, for one honest moment,

let us forgive our ancestors for the real and true roots

from which the Thanksgiving ritual emerged.

Let us acknowledge the less than honorable

circumstances that created the “original” table of abundance

that North Americans attempt to re-create each year.

Let us acknowledge and forgive, each other and

ourselves for perpetuating inaccurate history.

For how can we be truly grateful if we do not?


We rise with you

Spirit of Truth and Justice

to stroll through all the many gardens of gratitude

inhaling the crystal clear air of freedoms


through rough and tumble avenues of debate and destruction.


This year, in solidarity

let the hands across North America

reach toward each others heart

to feel the pulse that has longed for centuries to beat as one:

Whole, spirit-filled and grace-full,

swimming in the river of thankfulness

for the clarity such intentions provide.


This year let us give not until it hurts

but until we can look in the mirror and know that

we are reaching profoundly into the wells of gratitude,

know that we are sitting in the pure joy of it

tearfully acknowledging the gift to rise each day

and make bread or beds,

give smiles, elicit laughter, cross the line that is personal space

to meet in the circle that is a hug.


Spirit of Compassion, you know

that if we were never to give thanks, these gifts would still abound.


You know, we would rise and walk in the dark of emptiness

missing completely the air of humanity

the being-ness that is grounded in the awareness,

the age-old knowledge that we are all one,

and together create the One.


This year, let us commit

to always rise above

wherever it is we find ourselves.

Let us give thanks

for the interdependent web that brought food to our tables,

for the spirits that gave of themselves so that we might eat,

for the bended backs that labored in the hot sun

and all the carriers that reached their destinations.

In this rich well of appreciation,

let us stretch our hand across the table of abundance

pressing lifeline against lifeline

giving thanks that we can do so,

and gently holding in our hearts

those who cannot, and could not from the beginning.

Spirit of Our Deepest Desires,

this year, let us commit to truly rising as


Unitarian Universalist voice

working for and loving all of humanity.

Que asi sea. So may it be. Blessed Be.

Amen. Ashe. Ho! As Salaam Alaikum. Shalom. Namaste. Paz.

Rev. Marta I. Valentín is the minister at First Church Unitarian in Littleton, Massachusetts

About the Author
Gail Forsyth-Vail
Gail Forsyth-Vail is the Adult Programs Director in the UUA Faith Development Office. She is a Credentialed Religious Educator, Master’s Level, who served congregations for 22 years before coming to the UUA in 2008. The 2007 recipient of the Angus MacLean Award for Excellence in Religious Education, she has written or developed many religious education resources for UUs of all ages. She and her spouse, P. Stephen Vail, are proud and happy parents of three young adult Unitarian Universalists.


  1. Graham Smith

    I am Graham Smith, President of the Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship of Durango, Colorado. This is a beautiful poem of gratitude. I quoted it in our December 2011 newsletter.

    • Marta Valentin

      Dear Graham –
      Thank you for letting me know once place that my poem has traveled to.

      Many blessings –
      Rev. Marta Valentin

  2. Jan Carpenter Tucker

    This is beautiful, as are you, Marta Valentin. So happy to see you, out there, doing good things.


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