Craft ~ brews and reviews
By Greg Richardson
November is a month which elegantly combines
beer and spiritual life.
The spiritual practice most closely
identified with November is gratitude. We actually celebrate a
holiday dedicated to thanksgiving in November.
No matter who we are or where we live, we
fill our lives with people and things for which we are thankful. It
may be only one person in a crowd of others we wish would leave us
alone. It may be the one moment surrounded by a schedule of things
we are required to do.
November is the month when we recognize how
significant gratitude is for us. While being thanked can make some
people uncomfortable, being thankful shapes us and helps us see our
potential. Appreciation and gratefulness help us become better
Some people try to follow practices which
help deepen their gratitude. They may have a practice to help them
remember the people for whom they are thankful or find gratitude in
I know some people who decide to choose one
thing or person each day in November and remember to be grateful for
There are many things for which I am
thankful, many people to whom I am grateful. The more gratitude I
experience, the more grateful I become. I am thankful for the
examples of people who have gone before me, for those who inspire me
One of the things for which we can give true
thanks is craft beer.
We are grateful for the taste of excellent
craft beer, how it rolls on our tongues and fills our noses. We can
be thankful for the way it relaxes us, helping us tell the truths we
need to tell. Craft beer helps us make new friends and warms our
We can also thankful for the examples of
people who have gone before us. The monks who have taught us to brew
better beer. The teachers who taught us valuable lessons. Our
ancestors, who began new traditions to celebrate gratitude.
For example, the Puritan pilgrims who
celebrated the first Thanksgiving in what would become the United
States had more of an appreciation for beer than we might realize.
In many ways beer was central to that first Thanksgiving celebration
Those sailing aboard the Mayflower sighted
Cape Cod in November, 1620, after 64 days at sea. On the ship,
they ate bread, biscuits, pudding, cheese, crackers, and dried meats
and fruits. Instead of water, they brought barrels of beer -- a
standard practice in the days before refrigeration, because beer
remained potable longer than water.
Cape Cod was not the destination they had
when they set out from England. They attempted to sail south toward
their destination in Virginia, but contrary winds and shoals kept
them where they were.
The people on the Mayflower decided to land
at Plymouth because their supply of beer was getting dangerously
In December, a scouting party went ashore,
fearing a possible confrontation with unfriendly Native Americans.
They soon discovered that the local population had been decimated by
That first winter they suffered from cold,
starvation and disease; half of them had died by spring. Those who
survived the winter were still in danger of suffering the same fate.
Everything changed one spring day in 1621
when a lone Native American walked into the settlement and said, in
English, which he had learned from the sailors who had brought the
"Welcome, English. I am Samoset. Do you have
The Pilgrims were astonished. Of all the
places they could have come ashore, they had been found by someone
who was friendly and somehow spoke their language, and knew about
He showed them how to grow food, catch fish,
and sustain themselves. After their first harvest the remaining
Pilgrims from the Mayflower shared a feast for three days with their
Native American neighbors to thank them and thank God for preserving
Even today, many years later and many miles
from the Plymouth colony, thirsty pilgrims in Southern California
prepare to set out for the next stop on their own personal craft
What are you most thankful for this month?
Greg Richardson is a spiritual life
mentor in Pasadena, California. He is passionate about craft
brewing, listening, and monks and monastic life. Greg is a
recovering attorney, executive, and university professor. Greg’s
website is StrategicMonk.com and
he is on Twitter @StrategicMonk.
You can email Greg atStrategicMonk@gmail.com,
and he writes a blog for the Contemplative channel