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Words from Waller

November 18, 2022

Dear Willamette community,

Next week in the United States we celebrate Thanksgiving Day, a holiday that is at once an opportunity to rehearse factually dubious but emotionally resonant national myths, and a painful reminder of the harms of colonialism on the indigenous peoples of North America.

For me, though, the important spirit of thanksgiving is grounded in a far older tradition of harvest celebrations, and an annual pause to reflect on the importance of community. When I was young, I spent Thanksgiving mornings in my grandfather’s church, singing the old hymns and hearing the words of the Psalms.

Although I grew up in a particular Christian tradition, adherents of all religious faiths and those who profess no faith at all can resonate with these ideas from the Episcopal Collect for Thanksgiving: “we give thanks for the fruits of the earth in their season and for the labors of those who harvest them. Make us … faithful stewards of thy great bounty, for the provision of our necessities and the relief of all who are in need.”

My hope for all members of the Willamette community is that you enjoy time together with friends and family and that you make a special effort to pay forward the blessings we all have received by turning your attention also to those who are hungry, cold, or unhoused. As Cicero, the author of Willamette's beloved motto, observed, "Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues but the parent of all others."

non nobis solum,

Willamette University

Alumni and Parent Engagement