Thanksgiving doesn’t come easy for me. Praying for others’ needs does because I have been aware of my self-centered tendencies and figured this was a way to quietly counter my talent for complaint in conversations with people. For years I thought that if I didn’t vent, I’d burn up. God sent gracious people who listened patiently. Some listened so well, I heard myself. (This being listened to without interruption other than expressions of sympathy is a great, free gift that isn’t easy to practice.) But enough of that.
Eventually I realized that journaling worked better as far as getting the poison out of my system. It respected my privacy. Though sometimes it’s hard to face that blank page and vent because the pettiness in my words is humiliating. But holding to that honesty, that kind of confession takes me back to the promise in I John 1:9—If we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive them. And there are times I have written my way into the answers God has provided. But I also realized it was too much work to write out all that drama, so I simply stopped going there.
Nowadays I walk out my prayers when I walk the dogs down the road. If something is bothering me I talk to God like I would a girlfriend. I’ve seen His gentle answers—a lightening in my spirit, reconciliation between brothers, much needed success at a job. But I’ve also started saying Thank you, simply thank you, as I listen to my footsteps and look at the fields and farms and sky and trees.
There’s also a spiritual practice called Examen that I don’t practice as I should that invites us to write down where we felt God’s love and where we felt estranged from that love. An acquaintance to called those things sweet and sour. When I have written them out I have seen with my own eyes and heart how many good things have come my way and complaint is nudged aside. It’s a good gift to stop stirring up drama because it’s familiar and live a quiet life.
So here are my thanksgivings. (Also it seems as though we release goodness into our lives and the world when we give thanks. God comes and sits his butt down on the chair we’ve made. The Psalm Jesus quoted on Good Friday with “My God, my God why have you forsaken me? Goes on to say, “Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Isreal.” (Psalm 22: 1, 3)
Thanks be to God for Bruce who has the heart of Jesus, who knelt and washed road grime and feces off his disciples’ feet the night before he died. Bruce has lived into this kind of service. His smarts are in his hands. He repairs broken things and makes new ones.
Thanks be to God for this farm, with neighbors at least a half mile away, so our dogs don’t bother them and we don’t hear their doors slamming. Their big farming machines run spring and fall and are a marvel to behold. Our road is quiet. Thanks be to those same neighbors who stop by and catch us up on the news.
Thanks be to that quiet road, where I can walk and talk things out with God if I need to talk, or I can settle into silence, to listening for my footsteps, to seeing how the sky settles over the gently rolling fields. Omalola trots along and carefully sniffs the grass.
Thanks be to God for fields that roll gently but not so much they block sunsets and sunrises.
Thanks be to God for how light finds its way spreading across the fields and into the house, almost like the presence of angels, the presence of the light of this world.
Thanks be to God for The Tree that I look to multiple times a day, in all kinds of light and dark.
Thanks be to Omalola who joined our family a year ago, whose running in a long, broad outrun after she’s grabbed the ball is a sight that lifts up my heart—joyous, animal energy. She’s an excuse to get out with other people, no deep conversations, focus on asking her to do what I ask. And there’s Dolly who likes a quiet walk down to the corner with just her and me.
Thanks be to Cherry Valley Feed who sells us the best chews that keep Omalola and Dolly occupied, as well as premium food for the dogs and cats, bedding for the horse. We stop in at least once a week because they know our names.
Thanks be to Smudgie, gallant cat, who sits by me, no matter where I’m working. He finds Bruce’s lap during TV time. Kalizoo finds my hands at 4 am, and guards the pocket door room from Omalola, who has discovered this fierce little cat is not to be messed with.
Thanks be for TAILS who took all five kitties to be spayed or neutered when we only had an appointment for one. We enjoy their waiting by the barn door for us to bring more food, just like their mother. They scramble up the beams to live in the hay loft and I look up there to see if they are watching me. I do hope they make it through the winter. (We made a ‘kitty condo’ out of haybales and a warming dog bed, we hope they use.) Thanks be to these kitties for keeping the rat and mice population down.
Thanks be to Morgen who taught me how perceptions and self-talk can be skewed, who greets me morning, evening and night, glad for her hay and company. She’s calling me to spend more time with her.
Thanks be to Immanuel Lutheran church’s formal services that focus on worship. They ring bells. Here’s a Thanksgiving sermon that points us toward the lovingkindness of our God: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJCA2iB9Ni0 The sermon begins at 13 minutes and well worth a listen for how Pastor Richard points us to God’s loving kindness based on the verse: “Oh give thanks to the Lord for his lovingkindness endures forever.”
Thanks be to junk TV. And Facebook that has introduced me to new friends and the NRPlus group that has become a real community. I don’t feel so alone in my political beliefs. And for good books like Mark Helprin’s The Oceans and the Stars that invite me into another world.
Thanks be to my friends who the Lord has often nudged to give a shout when I’ve plunged into the lonely pit. Thanks be that some have been patient and kind with my need to feel useful. Thanks be for chitty chat, just shooting the breeze, talking small talk because sometimes that’s the most comforting. Thanks be to the ones who have walked away.
Thanks be to my spiritual director, someone I can talk to about God stuff, that most people aren’t interested in hearing or is too vulnerable to share. Thanks be for her wise guidance as I sort out what it means to be healed and a healing presence.
Thanks be to Doc who sent me to physical therapy, which is undoing stiffness in my legs, a stiffness that made walking hard and sitting sore like a headache in my thighs.
Thanks be to you for subscribing and reading my words. After years of writing with little to no audience it’s so rewarding to be read. I’d like to especially thank those of you who are supporting my work by being paid subscribers. You have offered me deep, deep encouragement and help support this marvelous Substack platform.
Thanks be for the gift of being content with quiet, without having to drum up drama to feel comfortable with life. It has taken decades and much practice to come to this point.
Now’s your turn. What are you thankful for?
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