BY DAVID PERRYMAN
The “Cornucopia” or “Horn of Plenty” is one of the most enduring symbols of Thanksgiving. Its origins are of Classical Antiquity and can be traced to the ancient civilizations around the Mediterranean. According to the Greek legend, the original cornucopia was one of the horns of the mother goat that hid, protected and nurtured Zeus after his father sought to kill him.
The unending nourishment that flowed forth from the horn has become emblematic of harvest, prosperity and spiritual abundance.
As we gather this holiday, we will give thanks for the many blessings that we enjoy – blessings of family, shelter, nourishment and health. We will also pray for peace in a nation torn asunder, and peace in a world that often appears hopelessly broken.
Just as the Pilgrims did 395 years ago and presidents of our nation from George Washington to Barack Obama have recommended us to do, we will gather in our homes, places of worship, community centers, or any place of fellowship for friends and neighbors – and in the words of President Obama, “Give thanks for all we have received in the past year, express appreciation to those whose lives enrich our own, and share our bounty with others.”
To achieve the level of fellowship encouraged by past presidents, we must remember that America’s strength is its diversity. Only through our differences do we have the opportunity to gain deeper understanding and greater compassion.
For instance, in April 1862, Abraham Lincoln asked the citizens of the republic to offer thanks for “inestimable blessings” and seek “spiritual consolation” for all who had suffered “casualties and calamities of sedition and civil war.”
Just months earlier in October 1861, Confederate President Jefferson Davis had directed citizens of the C.S.A. to thank God for military victories and to ask God to humble the enemies of the Confederacy to confusion and shame.
President Lincoln’s plea was for the speedy “restoration of peace, harmony, and unity throughout our borders and the establishment of fraternal relations among all the countries of the earth;” President Davis asked for the “preservation of our homes and altars from pollution” through victory over the enemies of the Confederate States.
Both leaders prayed to the same deity. One sought preservation of a spirit of community and the other sought preservation of a way of life that he feared was at risk.
Last Thanksgiving, President Obama reminded us that our nation’s tradition of giving continues to inspire, and at shelters and food centers, on battlefields and city streets, and through generous donations and silent prayers, the inherent selflessness and common goodness of the American people endures.
It is my prayer that our country and our world be united in a spirit of community whose people strive to be inherently selfless regarding their cornucopia.
– David Perryman, a Chickasha Democrat, represents District 56 in the Oklahoma House