Archive for November, 2009

Giving Thanks,Together: A Prayer for Unity

Turkeys being dressed this eve
Norman Rockwell table setting
Families sitting elbow to elbow
Gestures preparing the moment

Conversations link to yesterdays
A time when time was breathing
Prayerful celebrations of thanks
Snapshots of where it all began

Empty chairs of of lost feelings
Ceilings echoing voices passed
Nodding dreams sleeping away
A photographic gallery of family

A season of trimming windows
Window shopping for a purpose
Finding quality in mere quantity
Lighting roof lines with promise

Hands to chin mosaic reflections
Colored fragments, introspections
Framed into a thanksgiving feast
Humanity harvesting a collection

A symposium of what is worthy
Where humility should find rest
A monumental gesture of prayer
Putting each member to the test

It is not in the fare of the harvest
Where Thanksgiving finds her heart
It is in the careful considerations
That every human has their part

Let nothing divide family meaning
As a house on sand will not stand
It is in the foundations of God’s love
Where thankful hearts will understand

Thanksgiving is the grace of understanding
That together we can provide provisions
For a world longing to know the true meaning
Of the First Thanksgiving, a prayer for unity

Kathy Paysen 2009

Thank you to my friend Bob Henry who made me aware of this poem.


U.S. President Barack Obama bows as he is greeted by Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko as he arrives at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009.
———–AP Photo/Charles Dharapak


What I love about this picture is the respect and symbolism that is here.

Although folks are upset about Obama bowing to the Japanese Emperor, he was showing a sign of respect. Some commentators have argued that Obama did not bow to the Queen of England. But that was because Obama greeted her in what was a culturally proper manner; he gave her a slight, respectful gesture. In this case Obama greeted the Japanese Emperor in a completely acceptable manner, he was formal and respectful. Obama was stepping on Japanese territory, it wasn’t up to him to dictate the way that he greeted the Emperor. Even, if this meeting was in the United States, the humility to be hospitable to the presence of someone from a different culture and point of view is a valued and important quality.

There is some great symbolism in this photo.

First, I love that they are shaking hands and bowing. This is multiculturalism in action. It is the West meets East in a beautiful way that integrates and values both American and Japanese culture. I also love seeing this because  it occurs when I visit my in-laws; I simultaneously shake hands and bow with my wife’s grandfather.

Second, and more importantly,  there is the issue of humility. Bowing innately represents the lowing of one’s self. It is submissive.  It is easy for me as a Westerner to see humility, lowering and submission  as negative traits, but biblically these are beautiful things.  They are not signs of weakness, but strength. These actions acknowledge that it is not necessary to try to reaffirm one’s power, it is not necessary to try to assert power and it is not necessary to be domineering. These traits show strength comes by understanding one’s self so well – for the Christian this means understanding one’s identity in Christ – that it is not necessary to flaunt power or control. It takes a strong and confident person to bow, to lead by putting one’s self literally and symbolically underneath another.