Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanks.


The most wonderful time of the year was sung, surely, for the holiday that is Thanksgiving. While to be sure the food is of great focus....and for some football plays some role....it is difficult to ruin this holiday with externals. While my love for Christmas is based upon an incarnate Lord, my love for Thanksgiving is that just once per year there seems to be a universal spirit of thanks. And while my family will offer thanks to their Lord, there is a sense of commonality in Americans taking to just be thankful. Before I even begin to list what I am thankful for I will say that I am thankful just for the ability to be thankful....that as glum as I feel I have gotten over the past months...surely as frightful as my mood can become....as negative as some of my comments have (scarily) become....the ability to list what I am thankful for has not waxed or waned. (I will pray the glumness, frightful moods & negative comments begin to wax and wane as well.)



I am so very thankful for ~


Providence & Purpose....were it not for knowing that all things come as a package of Providence for His Good Purpose I don't believe anything else would have much meaning.


Memories....what lovely times we can recall as a family - laughter & tears - to have lives which can be lived looking forward while smiling at the past is a gift.


Stuffing....as I chopped and diced celery & onion reading Lil's recipe for basic bread stuffing I am thankful that my senses are all fully functioning and that in the act of reading, chopping, smelling, tasting even the family that has left this earth is somehow still here.


Handwriting.....in an era of computers and keyboards I am thankful for the snippets of handwriting I have which belonged to my mother. In recipe books, in boxes of decorations & linens saved. Seeing the script helps me remember the hands.


Laughter....to be able to laugh in the midst of difficult circumstances does not belittle to seriousness of the circumstance. I do believe, however, that it keeps us all a bit healthier, a bit more grounded, a bit more united in the circumstance.


Family....being together is more of a gift in some years than we realize. We may be in varying degrees of health but being together takes on even more importance when we know that togetherness is not forever while on this earth.


Friends....being an only child you'd never guess the sisters I have. I am so thankful for each one, for the sister from Brazil who may very well be my blood & for the sisters who are willing to occasionally read a book with me.



On this Thanksgiving and especially in the coming hours and days and months I am thankful. I may struggle on occasion to remember this, but in my spirit, in my heart of hearts I am truly thankful.








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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Of Tragedy & Writing Practice....

Most human beings have experienced some form of grief or tragedy by the time they are in the midst of their lives. The average human will lose a loved one, lose a job, or lose their gumption in some form in early adulthood. The two surest things, to be certain, are death and taxes and while taxes may be no fun, it is death that results in those left behind needing comfort.

Yet grief could easily be experienced without the loss of life. Christian parents know the grief of seemingly losing a child because of their loss of faith. People of all stations, especially in recent years, have experienced the grief that comes from job loss. Job loss can lead to further tragedy that includes ruined reputation, drastic changes in a standard of living, the loss of medical care, and even the loss of a home.

Tragedy and grief strike with no respect of persons. The experience is shared across geography, religion, and economics. Loss is loss regardless of situation. The sting is universal. The lives touched forever changed.

To speak with anyone who lived through the Great Depression in America during the 1920s and 30s is to be regaled with stories of pain and suffering. Of adult men reduced to apple selling and women thinning what was called “soup” even further while children had bellies that ached. The Depression touched lives regardless of beginning station in life – and in fact it could easily be argued that the repercussions were felt hardest in the lives of those that had most to lose. And while those Depression survivors now speak of the past experiences as “character building”, the act of looking back often creates rose-colored glasses through which the gift of years becomes a perspective which helps only in retrospect.

There is a good chance, therefore, that anyone reading this has experienced a form of grief or tragedy. There is an even better chance that right this instant someone in the vicinity is going through a particular tragedy. A neighbor, a fellow church member, a cousin, friend of a friend….someone is experiencing a form of suffering which should….which MUST result in difficult introspection involving questions along the lines of “What can I do? What do I have that can be passed along? What can I give?”

Note that all of the questions involve actions and not necessarily a form of communication. Not once will I suggest you sit and ponder which pithy saying you should use to comfort the grief-stricken. Never will you hear me suggesting that Hallmark makes a great card for those experiencing job loss. Instead it is my heart’s deepest belief that the comforter should speak only when spoken to…should offer advice only when solicited…should live a life of action and giving rather than platitude and prose.





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Friday, November 13, 2009

Hey, let's at least be thankful.....


I do so enjoy conversations with the chronically optimistic. Especially those who genuinely have no reason not to be optimistic. I have one such person in mind as I go through the catharsis that is blogging, and while I do change names to protect the innocent the mold may not have been broken when she was created. Should you see any of these comments tumbling out of your mouth like the missing sock that never quite returns from its laundry trip, immediately eat back those words with a side of crow and thank your lucky stars reading this prevented you from future thankful gaffs.


The chronically optimistic and the comments they enjoy sharing:


"At least there's bread on the table." Bread? Really? Is that the day old stuff or the really fresh premium Wonderbread from Meijer? And if there's bread on the table should one be thankful if there's no peanut butter to accompany it? I seem to recall a miracle involving loaves and fishes and while manna was not necessarily a protein source, it was probably such a superfood that we really don't have a tangible comparison in 2009. When Susie Optimist makes comments like this I truly hope she is spending time making sure the people who should be happy with the bread also have a little peanut butter to go with it.


"At least you have your health." Honestly, people don't say that to our family, but it has been shared with a good many others experiencing this economic character-building experience. These tend to be the same people who are vehemently opposed to any form of health insurance for the masses. And though I am a 'pick yourself up with your bootstraps' kind of gal, sometimes the bootstraps have long since frayed and broken. Susie Optimist has not wrapped her mind around the concept of having health being necessary because when the health is gone there's no insurance to cover the medical bills.


"This really builds character." Susie Optimist doesn't say this because she's busy baking muffins for her family in her paid for sprawling ranch in Bubbleville, but Susie's parents and grandparents say it often. Susie's relatives, however, forgot just how badly lard sandwiches taste, the sock-in-your-gut feeling when shoes had holes that could not be replaced and snow was just coming, and though they realize it took a World War to end the last big Depression, black and white newsreels, Ernie Pyle, and FDR now seem like the 'good old days'. Remember - the 'builds character' folks often truly believe they walked uphill both ways to get to school.


I have no glossy way to wrap up my Susie Optimist warnings. I have no deeper thoughts or even overtly spiritual insights. I have reality and sometimes reality just plain stinks. Sorry Susie Optimist....many of us long ago were evicted from Bubbleville.






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