There are a few events that have triggered some deep Thanksgiving reflections this year:
- The 57th birthday party of a sweet woman who suffered a stroke 7 months ago and is now struggling to re-learn to talk, move, walk.
- The memorial celebration for the 53-year-old music genius who gave in to her cancer on the last full moon.
- The Parliament of World Religions discussion about the mistreatment of farm animals in the United States forcing me to really, really consider vegetarianism. (But I did eat turkey on Thanksgiving.)
- A visit to see my Aunt and the uncle whose overachieving bladder cannot stop making tumors.
- A visit with one of my cousins and her family.
- 86-year-old Ruth who is an environmental warrior and an independent lady.
- A text message that my brother-in-law had a massive stroke.
Maybe you’re waiting for me to tell you what they all have in common; what my ramblings and reflections have taught me about life. I’m sorry to disappoint, but I cannot. Not because you as the reader need to make sense of it all for yourself, though that might be true; not because I’m being coy, because I’m not even sure what that means having never been coy in my life!
No, I can’t tell you how they’re related because I don’t know. I have no clue.
That’s probably why I’ve been holding them in my heart. I like things to make sense and so much of life does not. I like organized thoughts and events to follow patterns, but my mind usually jumps from one topic to the next so that I have to make notes to stay on track and the steps I take to finish my to-do list are anything but sequential.
I keep reading and re-reading this list. What do they have in common? What does it mean? What lesson am I to be learning from these several events? I feel like there’s one piece of the 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle missing…THE PIECE that makes the picture come together.
I can tell you that I love my family. All of them…I have the best family in the world…from my grandkids to my parents; from my sisters to aunts; from my daughters to nieces and nephews. My cousins are truly, truly special people. I’m just so lucky to have all these great people in my life.
I can tell you that I love my life…except for winters in Ohio.
I can tell you that God is a real person in my life and I don’t talk to her nearly often enough.
I can tell you that I’m so flawed, and in spite of …maybe because of…the flaws, I sincerely like who I am.
I can tell you that the gratitude I talked about on Thanksgiving doesn’t end with that day. I’m grateful every day of my life…for everything I have in my life: health, family, friends, the ability to pay my bills.
And I can tell you that I still don’t know what triggered so much reflection this year. I still don’t know why these events impacted me so profoundly.
I can only tell you that they did.
That they helped me feel vulnerable, powerless, blessed.
That they triggered a loving response, prayer, and prayerful thoughts.
That they illuminated for me the careful layering of our emotions: the bedrock sadness, gratitude that constitutes more layers than any other single emotion, the grief, the too-generous portion of fear, inspiration to do better, motivation to do more, love, more sadness, and even more gratitude.
These are emotional reactions. They don’t give me a neat little quotation that will trigger the same emotional responses for you. Nothing I’ve written or thought of writing has helped me make sense of why my mind is stuck on these events specifically.
They are just a diorama of life, right? Miniature figurines in action before a construction paper background, sun, trees, grass, stick figures playing ball drawn in black crayon.
It’s just life. Nothing to make sense of; nothing to reason out; nothing to acquire.
Life in its complexity, simplicity, irony.
Maybe I don’t need to make sense of it. Maybe feeling this deeply was enough.