Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thanksgiving fog and thanks, really give thanks

Tuesday everyone was looking for smallish turkeys. 16 lbs. Me included. I'm reminded of the surrealism of everyone in the country cooking the same damned meal at the same time. Yet I'm doing it too. Compulsively pushing my way through the supermarket, not going through the motions, more like observing the marionette strings. Wait, I know, I know, it's like some global version of synchronized swimming! I'm wandering through with my own free will, matching the movements of everyone else. It's ludicrous. It's tradition. It roots us. It's my favorite meal.

Happy Thanksgiving. Remembering to give thanks and be grateful can make all the difference.

One of the many great books I finally read that year in Fiji (it was as much my "Year of Reading" as anything else - (moving there got to me to finally clean my house, and clear out my "to read" list,), was Bodies in Motion and At Rest. It's author, Thomas Lynch is a funeral director who, as he writes in his foreword, writes because he doesn't play golf or drink. One of my favorites essays was, "The Way We Are." Great in it's entirety but it's ending message has strongly stayed with me:

...The silence out of heaven to these questions was real. Why wasn't God listening? I wanted to know. And before I'd agreed to step one foot in heaven, I had a list of things I wanted explanations for.

There's a reason we are given two ears and one mouth.

Someone told me that I should just say "Thanks," and that all my prayers should begin that way and never stray far from the notion that life was a gift to be grateful for. I began by giving thanks for my family, for the blessings to my household, the gifts of my children. Then the daylight and the nightfall and the weather. Then the kindness you could see in humankind, their foibles and their tender mercies. I could even be grateful for the ex-wife, the tax man, the gobshites who run the world and ruin everything. The more I mouth my thanks for them, the less they bothered me. There's another thing to be thankful for. I could be thankful even for this awful illness - cunning, baffling and powerful - that has taught me to weep and laugh out loud and better and for real. And thankful that, of all the fatal diseases my son might have gotten, he got one for which there is this little sliver of a hope that if he surrenders, he'll survive. Whatever happens, God will take care of him.

And every time I say it, the prayer gets answered. Someone, out of the blue, every day - maybe my wife or someone at the office or the guy in the line at the airport or something in a letter that came in the mail, or something in the lives of my sons or daughter - someone gives out with a sign or wonder in the voice of God, in some other voice than mine, to answer my prayer. Every day, every time, never fails, if I just say "Thanks," I'll get the answer, before the darkness comes - "You're welcome," it say. "You're welcome."

-- Thomas Lynch. from "The Way we Are" in Bodies in Motion and At Rest.

1 comment:

Flor said...

what a wonderful quote. i've become an occasional reader since starting a blog myself, and i wanted to thank you both for the Lynch reference and for writing an all-around readable chronicle of your real life. genuinely inspiring. you can let me know if you'd rather be removed from the "links with meat" rubric at