In Barbara Kingsolver’s essay “Knowing Our Place” in her book Small Wonder she delighted and challenged me . . .
In the way of so-called worldly things, I can’t seem to muster a desire for cellular phones or cable TV or to drive anything flashier than a dirt-colored sedan older than the combined ages of my children. I want wood-thrush poetry. I want mountains.
She wrote those words while living near Tucson, Arizona. From her home, she glimpsed a world continually revealing beauty to her. Once a bobcat arrived at her window, staring at Kingsolver for two long amazing moments. And there were those wood-thrushes that swooped past, aloft on invisible air. Mountains too, she witnessed, a purple majesty in the fall of the year.
What of you?
What are you thankful for as you celebrate Thanksgiving? Maybe you’ll read these words after the official holiday. Doesn’t matter! Shouldn’t thanks-giving be more than once a year on a calendar?
And so, on whatever day you read this, what are you truly, truly thankful for? Would it be cell phones? Each day tech companies offer more choices of whiz-bang ways to converse, listen to music, send photos, text, Tumblr along or dwell in Facebooklandia. Would your thankfulness be television-based, with its 500+ channels and a plasma screen that plops you in the huddle of a football game or racing through the forest with Katniss Everdeen as she battles the do-badders of Panem?
Me? I’m easily seduced by the pleasures of our culture. I confess to desiring to toss my three-year old iPhone away for a razzmatazz new one. And I’m sure Comcast would give me a sweet deal for my viewing pleasures. (After all, they mail me weekly notes about how they long to save me money.) But would I want to share my Thanksgiving table with the phone or TV or . . . whatever?
What matters? What delights and gives life to my soul? What causes the hair on the back of my neck to rise? What makes me laugh? Or cry. Not the crying of sadness, but those unexpected tears from the depths of love.
Jesus, in one of the best statements he made about true thanks-living, said people accused him of being a “glutton and drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.” (Luke 7:34) I think those afraid of Jesus were unsettled about much he reveled in life. How he enjoyed the moment! How he sat around table and, even with those despicable tax collectors, shared wine and a good story. What would Jesus do? Welcome more to the table! Cheers!
Thankful living. Thank-filled living. What am I thankful for? This then, for me . . .
- Alpenglow at a Sierra lake.
- My dog greeting me at the door with her funny growl that declares how much she has missed me in the five minutes or five hours I’ve been gone.
- How my wife pronounces the word “about,” a reminder she was raised in Wisconsin.
- The dawn’s faint light when it still clings to the night.
- The blank page on the computer that beckons me to create. And then the 10th or 20th revision when at least one sentence reveals honest feelings.
- The taste of grilled salmon prepared by Michael.
- Juanita’s best way of making pilaf.
- Talking to a colleague at hospice after a phone call to a family has nearly brought me to tears.
- John Denver singing “Poems, Prayers, and Promises.”
- The orca pod we saw cruising along the Puget Sound.
- The smell of pine trees.
- The end of the dock at October’s borrowed cottage in ‘05.
- Dad in the driver’s seat of whatever new car he had, taking me with him as he visited clients. Mom, on every walk around the block I took with her. My sisters, who bookend me with love.
- Jeanie, forever young, as she stood beside me in the Yosemite Chapel and said, “I do.”
My thankfulness list is intimate and specific could fill pages. Thankful living is based on the truth of our lives. And that truth is rarely about cell phones or cars or all those other things that end up owning us.
What about you? What intimate truths would make your list? What are the memories that are treasures beyond gold? What are the moments you claim each day or week that help you thrive?
I relish those words about Jesus from Luke’s Gospel. I don’t doubt Jesus was accused of sharing a table with ne’er-do-wells where there was excellent food, good company and all were welcome. And laughter abounded.
Truly, for this life, for this day, thanks be to God!