Among the lip-smacking tastes of sweet potato pie, green beans, and turkey and dressing this Thanksgiving, there is a faint hint of bittersweet for me and my extended family. It has been a challenging year for us all, one of great pain, sadness and exhaustion from multiple directions and different fronts.
Together we will gather to collectively praise and thank God for our blessings, for being spared, for tender memories of relatives now gone. We will express gratitude for these rare and challenging opportunities to grow our faith. We will bask in our love for each other. We will delight in the levity and laughter we use to bring joy and perspective to what can only be described as unimaginable stories of disaster, loss and death. See A Cure for Fear.
Thanksgiving remains my favorite holiday, A Date to be Grateful. My Christmas cactus even blooms every Thanksgiving. It holds a more tender and sacred place in my heart this year as it will for the rest of my life. “Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse,” Henry Van Dyke.
My favorite author John Ortberg reminds us in When the Game is Over It All Goes Back in the Box, “God never wastes a hurt. Part of what makes a human life most powerful is the struggle. We undervalue the role adversity plays in life. …our lives are temporary and….the permanence of love is what binds us together.” All we have is the precious present – today – each other – our faith – our love – our heritage – the good Lord. Nothing else matters.
I discovered the poem below in a book entitled Phoenix Rising, stories written by survivors of wildfires out west. As I write this post, the beloved North Carolina mountains where I was born and raised are currently being ravaged by wildfires. The smell of constant, hanging smoke is an unwelcome reminder to me. Like that bittersweet taste, it prompts constant prayer for all those going through this incredibly forceful change agent. Like us, the forests will renew and be resurrected to once again fulfill their purpose, grace and beauty.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Tune in to the tender parts of your bounty. They are the most precious to behold at your table.
By Beth Cutter
The home we made, its colors and designs
With what remains: this random shards of tile,
A dozer track, the wind in distant pines.
This lot scraped bare was once my domicile.
To grasp a house was here may take a while
When just beyond that meets the eye I see
Thanksgiving dinners, grace, a sleeping child.
Chaotic birthday party games, a pile
Of grass-stained jerseys; peace once in a while:
These shades shine bright. Although the vagaries
Of wind and white-hot embers blowing wild
Consumed my house, theses were not on the pyre.
Some paintings gone, notes, books and jewelry –
Mementos of this life I had acquired.
My house was here – this much I reckon while
I grasp how much endured through fiery trial.
~From the desk of Becky Morlok~
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