I’ll bet with all the memes and jokes about 2020, you are surprised that I’ve found something worth celebrating this year. But I have! I’ve actually found many things worthy of celebrating and writing about.
Today I had a great report from a cancer screening test and I couldn’t wait to celebrate by taking a long, long walk. It felt so good to swing my arms and stride along. I had not been aware of being anxious, but apparently I was. The relief made me feel lighter than air. I had asked for my health to be protected, knowing that is not always how things work. Good health is not the ultimate sign of God’s approval, and he even works his purpose through the death of his most loved persons. I guess when you have the intelligence to create life, to restore and make anything brand new, and when you plan to eventually resurrect all who’ve died anyway, you think a bit differently about death in general. Nevertheless, I admit that I struggle to keep God’s perspective in mind at times. And I particularly don’t like cancer.
For me, there is no better way to celebrate than to move, to see, to experience the natural world. I could give you the short story – it was a beautiful day and I saw a deer and two snakes. Or I could show you with my pictures, which I love to do. August is the last month of summer. Everything here in the north is maturing and getting ready to die or go dormant in a very few weeks. The colors are different, the grasses and flowers are going to seed. You can feel the progression of life cycles that are expertly designed to show us things about God, if we will look, and think about what we see.
If you put away thoughts of COVID19, politics, natural disasters, and riots, I’ll bet you can find something to celebrate in 2020 too. I’d love to hear about it.
This created world… When I cannot write, I wander away from the house and look. I can’t help but think that God is sending messages to counteract confusion, fear, anger, and despair, if people will look. These things are here in my world to make me examine, wonder, hope and lose myself and my anxious thoughts for a moment, at least. I am so thankful. For sight and things to see, for hearing and sounds to hear, for mobility, for safety. I may not have these things always and that is okay, for I have them now. I wish I could package them up and send them to everyone who needs beauty, and peace, everyone who wishes for something to be grateful for. But this is the best I can do.
The most amazing thing is that you, and I, and all people, ALL PEOPLE, are the masterpiece of his creation, and all this beauty was put here for us. If we could only look into each other’s eyes and see something far more beautiful than anything in nature. “Made in his image” is how he put it, and capable of so much more than we are doing now. I feel the sadness in this, but I don’t think there is a problem that God doesn’t have an answer for.
If I had remembered to take pictures at the right time, I could have shown you my beautiful table, decorated and set for our Thanksgiving meal. But I didn’t and through that I realized there is an “other side” of Thanksgiving.
That side is as much a part of the good memories I hold as seeing that perfectly cooked turkey, the smorgasbord of pies ready to be served, or that plate full of food artfully arranged. The other side is seen here…
It is experienced as I wash dishes with help from guests, wipe counters clean, search space for an extra chair at the table, empty garbage, and wipe a spot of gravy off the floor (okay, it was really cat throw up but that’s not the point).
The other side includes that kind of relaxed, awkward time after eating when no one is quite sure what to do so they do this…
The other side is dear, but also a little stressfull as the number of people in the house swells, the kitchen counters are crowded with supplies, refrigerators are full of leftovers and entryways look like this.
Those necessary inconveniencies of travel, trying to keep rested over a long weekend, trying to connect in meaningful ways with each loved family member and guest – all are parts of almost every Thanksgiving I can remember. They are the other side that is maybe not so photogenic or talked about.
I think I love the other side too – the mess, the chaos, the spills, the broken dish, the menu item that gets forgotten in the fridge, the cat that dips its paw in my guest’s water glass.
Thanksgiving is a singular, memory making holiday with two sides. It might even be my favorite. All this goodness makes it easy to say “thank you family!” And “thank you guests!” And most of all “thank you God!” for another great Thanksgiving.
Anyone who listens to the weather reports for the U.S. now knows who “Dorothy” is. It snowed last night. I have to say I much prefer snow storms that come at night while I’m asleep. The result is a stunning morning.
Half of our Thanksgiving travelers arrived last night right before the storm. The other half will travel today after the storm leaves their area. We are set for a nice family day tomorrow, before “Ezekiel”, the next approaching storm, hits us.
I was out for a stroll this morning, taking pictures of course. I may have taken the same ones last year, but I can’t help it. It was also a good opportunity to test my new coat and breathe some very invigorating air.
I have been planning, buying, and cooking for Thanksgiving for nearly a week now. It seems that I’m only thinking of one or two things at a time when I shop, so there is always something that’s forgotten. (I do make lists. They don’t help with my problem.) I get home, unload and immediately start some new thing, for which I require something I don’t have. I went to Walmart four times yesterday. Thanksgiving is definitely the time to be thankful Walmart is in my back yard, literally.
Having company come also instigates some ridiculous things that I wouldn’t normally take time for, like cooking. And cleaning. I ended up cleaning shelves in the extra refrigerator in the garage this morning. That’s where my huge 16 lb. turkey is waiting in his roasting pan, next to the two gallons of chili I put together yesterday. If I send someone out to fetch those things, I can’t have them seeing the shriveled up garden produce left from summer, dirt included.
It is also birthday time. Mom turned 87 last Sunday and I couldn’t let that pass without having a few people over. Or twenty people over, which is what happened. Saturday night I was getting brunch ready for the party when I remembered the beets I had been planning to can or pickle, or at least cook. They are the last of the precious beet extravaganza that Mom and I harvested from the garden and, like I said, they were in that fridg, getting a little shriveled.
I decided to cook them up, which ended up looking like a late night massacre in the kitchen. I thought I’d never get done. Peeling beets the size of marbles takes forever, especially since I have one hand in a splint yet. There were quite a few of them and I couldn’t face canning them so, in the freezer they went. But Mom loves beets, which made it kind of appropriate to be doing this the night before her party. It was a good party.
Can I say that I am so thankful to God for everything? Yes, every single detail of this life is something he is aware of and responsible for. I did not plan to be born of my parents, in this country, in this time any more than others who suffer in horrible conditions for no fault of their own. In being thankful I’m equally aware of the responsibility I bear to do something with what has been given to me. There is also the awareness that everything could be gone in an instant, as many have experienced.
I am thankful for all this physical wealth, and the safety to enjoy it. But the physical perks are not why I love my God. I love him as a child who loves a good parent. I love him for the same reasons Chinese Christians huddle in secret home churches to worship, for the same reasons that brave souls get down on their knees and submit to being beheaded. There are reasons, logical and thought out reasons, to love God and buy in to what he tells us. It is not a mindless path.
This is a great time of year to be curious about these things, and to be thankful. I want to learn and grow in this season – this time that holds incredible beauty but is also remarkably dark and cold. Winter…, just sayin’.
There are so many beautiful places in this country. I can’t help but think that I am in one of the greatest for this time of year. I’m a “Yankee” according to some who were born here in Florida, but after 30 years in this state I think I’ve earned the right to brag on it. I’ve spent the last two days working outside in perfect weather. Perfect. I’ve driven past the sparkling blue Gulf. I’ve sat out in the yard, visiting with neighbors and listening to the birds. I’ve been watching the buds on my orchids swell and open to the sun. And tonight I’m out in the back yard listening to the crickets while I watch the brush pile of downed limbs burn, glow and spark upward. I love living in Florida.
It’s the way I’ve always experienced it. When I start anticipating a possible move, I also start a new awareness and appreciation of my present home. It’s the season when one of our rare trees in the oneacrewoods, the kapok, blooms and drops literally thousands of blossoms on the ground. The flowers are the size of badminton “birdies” and have to be raked up or they become a wet, sticky mess that sticks to tires and shoes. What could seem like a never-ending chore, since they are falling even as I rake, is instead a marvel to me. Someday I will not have this gorgeous tree to tend, and that thought makes me sad. I think of all the energy and work that has gone into the production of these showy, red missiles and wonder what the abundance means. Was it our wet fall, or does the tree know that there are hard seasons ahead?
The truth is, I’ve loved everywhere God has allowed me to live, even the places I didn’t want to go to at first. There are reasons for being where we end up being, and we are there to look for those reasons. Looking with expectation, curiosity, and the desire to learn is the challenge. Tonight I’m really thankful for our time in Florida. I’m just sayin’, it’s a great place to be.
Back in Florida after two weeks in the Pacific North West. This morning it was 71 degrees. Tonight the low is 38 degrees F. For this, I could have stayed in Seattle.
I have decided that I want to remember each visit, each trip for the good things that happen. For this recent visit to Esther in Seattle I am grateful for:
an evening of music, where Esther played flute and I played piano, like we used to in times past. This hasn’t happened for a long time.
a visit to the compline service at St. Marks. I had heard about that kind of music and seen it in movies but the experience far surpassed it all. A first for high church liturgy.
a chance to step inside Esther’s dream Airstream and add the smallest amount of emotional weight to her future plans.
the near miraculous sequence of events the last two days in town that made it possible to get Esther’s car serviced and cracked windshield replaced.
the fun of meeting John at True View who was a delightful person as well as a careful, skilled windowglass technician.
the new information about eating and how much fun I had trying out the AIP (and how much fun it was when we cheated on cupcakes)
the crazy, different electric jacket, and Esther’s “passed down” sweaters.
sweet potato fries at Blue Moon with Esther and Ryan.
I have read recently of research showing that being grateful trains the brain, making it easier to be grateful in the future. It is a mental health practice that extends to the physical body as well. Keeping a gratitude journal, and having daily time to reflect and write in it is one of my goals for this new year. I hope to share some of it here, which leads me to expressing thankfulness for this writing outlet, and for those who read and contribute on WordPress. I am truly encouraged by each and every one of you. Thank you.
Thoughts at the beginning of what would have been a bike ride…
(Early morning, September 26, 2016)
No! What’s happening?! The pedal is flipping and I’m off balance. I’m going down hard. The handlebar is going right into my neck. Bad place to hit.
It’s over, that was quick. How suddenly things can change. Hurts, hurts. Is there any way this could be fatal?
Don’t panic, you are still thinking, for the moment… That’s a good sign. Hold still, wait.
That was quite a poke in the neck, really hurts. Hope no major vessels were torn.
My hand on my neck might be stabilizing something, I’d better not move it yet. Wait.
It’s really peaceful and still, just sitting here. Look how nothing else has changed. Sunshine, trees, a butterfly. I’m not losing consciousness, must not be bleeding internally. I am so aware of still being alive and so aware of how quickly I could have been dying. God, thank you and please help me not be injured badly.
It must be okay to move. I can’t feel anything changing in my neck. I can feel the abrasion now, stinging. Swallowing hurts a little. I suppose I could worry about my airway, but I don’t feel swelling. Not yet. I’m going to stand up.
I wonder what this looks like, need to go in the house and look. Hmmm… right over the jugular. How did that not tear something? Thank God for skin and a tough body.
I feel funny, rattled, sort of fearful. Is this a fear I should conquer by getting back on the bike right away? I should at least pick it up off the driveway.
The wheel won’t turn and something is bent. (Thank God, I can’t ride it!)
Why did this happen? What will I do differently if there’s a “next time”? There’s no one else at fault, just me. I think I was moving too fast – just didn’t see that the pedal wasn’t flat before putting my foot on it. Need to check everything deliberately.
Is there any way this could mean I’m getting incapable? I’m not used to accidents. Have they been happening more often because of changes in me? I’ll bet that thought will occur to others. I’m going to put it on hold for now.
I should put an ice pack on my neck and forget exercise for today. Going to take it easy, just sayin’…
I am so grateful for water. I was thinking about that while washing dishes the other night. We use water to carry the dirt away from everything we wash – our dishes, our clothes, our cars, our pets, our bodies, everything. If that were the only benefit of water, that alone would be enough.
The complexity of what water does inside our bodies is another mind boggling subject. We are composed of 50 – 75% water and all our basic functions depend on having enough of it inside the cells, outside the cells, in the bloodstream. Every biochemical reaction in our bodies takes place in water and we can’t produce it ourselves, nor store adequate amounts of it. We have to take it in, or we die rather quickly.
And so we have a planet to live on that is watered with a beautiful closed system of purification and re-use of water, that has vast amounts of water stored underground, and seas and oceans, lakes and streams almost everywhere. It is a perfect match for our needs. That being said, some of us have to work a lot harder for water than others. Some of us never have to consider how precious our water is and are wasteful of it, taking it for granted.
I’m not going to get real technical about water. I just want everyone to have a chance to think about water and how marvelous it is, in all its forms from rain to snow to steam. The beautiful clouds in the sky, the inspiring waterfalls that we flock to view, the cool lake that we jump into to cool off, the sprinkler that brings relief to our grass and plants and trees. Water is, well, kind of miraculous really. Just sayin’…