Thanksgiving 2011

Thanksgiving.

I am thankful for so much that I sometimes feel gratitude like a swell in my chest, pressing on me from the inside out.  And yet, there is still so much here I do not understand (Adrienne Rich).  Loved ones circle around tables and take time to consider that which matters most, the world turns ever-faster towards the darkest day of the year, our family in particular remembers the heart transplant, nine years ago, that changed all of us forever.

This is a particularly evocative time, for me, in the natural world.  The shadows gather earlier and earlier and the trees lose the last of their leaves.  The light right now carries a particular charge of both life and loss.  This weekend we will probably return to one of our favorite places, the tower at Mount Auburn, where last year my children took my breath away with their wisdom.  Perhaps we will go back to Walden.  For me this is always a quiet, thoughtful weekend, replete with both sorrow and hope.  Thanksgiving is the holiday of grace incarnate.

Maybe this is what grace is, the unseen sounds that make you look up. I think it’s why we are here, to see as many chips of blue sky as we can bear. To find the diamond hearts within one another’s meatballs. To notice flickers of the divine, like dust motes on sunbeams in your dusty kitchen. Without all the shade and shadows, you’d miss the beauty of the veil. The shadow is always there, and if you don’t remember it, when it falls on you and your life again, you’re plunged into darkness. Shadows make the light show. – Anne Lamott

Isn’t it, after all, the interplay of light and shadow that provides the texture of our lives? The darkness creates contrast, but it also scoops out some emotional part of me, allowing me to contain – experience, recognize, feel – more joy. I am grateful, I realize anew, for way my lens on the world is striated with both light and dark.

I am thankful today for evening light on bare trees, for the deep, glowing blue of the afternoon sky, for the words of a friend that make me feel less alone, for the tousled hair of sleepy children, for the lyrics of a song that bring tears to my eyes, for the moments when I am really and truly present, when I feel my spirit beating like wings in my chest.

So, this is happysad day for me, in a reflective season. My heart swells with awareness of my tremendous blessings, of the extravagant beauty that is my world. My thoughts are quiet and shadowy, but lit by incandescent beams of light. Like a night sky whose darkness is obliterated over and over by the flare of roman candles exploding, their colors made more beautiful by the surprise of them against the darkness. Like my life.

(I wrote these paragraphs in 2009 and they still feel as enormously, specifically relevant today as they did then, so I share them again)


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5 Comments

  1. Posted November 24, 2011 at 5:47 am | Permalink

    Thank you, Lindsey, for your blog. Thank you for putting yourself out there, which, I know, is not always easy. Making yourself vulnerable…I’ve seen (and struggled with!) how this inevitably invites others to…open and soften. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Lisa

  2. Posted November 24, 2011 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    It’s a “happysad” day for me, too. Be as quiet and Still as you can. Happy Thanksgiving.

  3. Posted November 24, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Thanksgiving is traditionally my most cherished holiday. This year, however, it holds much sadness as a period of extreme darkness in my life. Thank you for the reminder that we all have a darkness and need a darkness to show us the contrasts in life. For me, the light is in my children who I need now more than ever.

  4. Posted November 24, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

    So beautiful and evocative, Lindsey. Thank you.

  5. Posted November 25, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    Wow Lindsey. How I wish I could have expressed this as beautifully as you wrote here two years ago. It’s exactly what’s been in my head, but could get down on paper. Thank YOU 🙂