Corn, beans and squash… thank them all and have a Happy Thanksgiving

Corn, beans and squash… thank them all and have a Happy Thanksgiving



Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote,

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”

In this month when Thanksgiving is a national holiday, Emerson’s words find no better embodiment than among the Haudenosaunee. Known as the “thanksgiving address,” it is a central prayer recited daily at the beginning of school days as well as social, cultural, and political events.

This address gives thanks for seventeen generous aspects of the larger world. Gratitude is expressed to: the people, Earth Mother, waters, fish, plants, food plants, medicine herbs, animals, trees, birds, four winds, the Thunderers, Sun, Grandmother Moon, stars, Enlightened Teachers, and Creator.

Imagine how a daily recitation of the gifts of nature would cultivate a habit of gratitude among us! Consider how an ongoing practice of offering thanks for every good thing that comes to us would change us for the better!

A common agricultural practice they and other Turtle Island tribes utilized was called “the three sisters.” This companion farming technique planted corn and climbing beans among small mounds of dirt, and between those mounds squash was planted. The cornstalk is the pole for climbing beans whose tendrils stabilize the corn in high winds. The beans fix nitrogen in their roots to share with the corn. The large squash leaves hold moisture near the ground, providing shade that keeps weeds from sprouting. Their prickly hairs deter insect pests, raccoons, and deer.

  • Who are your “corn”—those you look up to and lean on?
  • Who are your “beans”—those who stabilize and enrich you?
  • Who are your “squash”—in whose presence you find protection and relief?

Thank them all!


Rev. Dr. Sybrant serves at Murray Hills Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). For more info, visit us at 15050 SW Weir Road, Beaverton. | 503-524-5230