"Thank you God for most this amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirit of trees and a true blue dream of sky and everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is Yes."
I've been reciting that stanza, borrowed from poet e.e. cummings, quite often lately.
Anne Lamott, who manages to write about spirituality without being sanctimonious or annoyingly pious, says there are basically two kinds of prayer: "Help me, help me, help me!" and "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" Lately, when I'm sorely tempted to utter the first kind, I stop myself and choose the other instead. When we're feeling put upon and overwhelmed, sometimes it's better to let go and remind ourselves how much there is to be grateful for.
Thank you for most this amazing autumn--September and October were spectacular, Indian Summer lingering right up till Halloween. That delayed the color rush, all the conditions aligned and the first two weeks of November have been a visual feast. The maples have never turned in such synchronized splendor. I never realized we had so many.
Many of the leaves finally dropped en masse last weekend, creating a golden groundcloth, and the timing--coinciding with Thanksgiving--couldn't have been better. According to my personal calendar, there are only two seasons--outside and inside. Outside lasts from May through October. Beginning in November, the focus moves indoors. All spring and summer long, the outdoors explode with growth and food-chain frenzy. In November, the world outside comes to rest, a welcome counterpoint to the combustion inside--preparation for the great feasts and the comings home, friends and family drawn by a different kind of gravity (not to mention gravy). Somehow the low-level hum of anticipation hasn't been extinguished by all the passing years, all the repetition and the ritual. Somehow it comes around again each year, renewed. Remarkable, really.
I'm thankful there's a holiday that precedes the December excesses. Without something to divert us, we might explode from the pressure of those wildly disproportionate expectations. That may be why so many adults say Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday. It's low-key, connecting and satisfying. The food's usually pretty good, too.
More than Christmas or any other December festival, Thanksgiving is about appreciating life's basic goodness--where you come from, who you're tied to, how cozy a home can be. We spend so much of our lives apprehensive and drained by struggle, we don't leave much time to savor the fact that life, in spite of all worrisome circumstances, is so fundamentally good. Good at its core--as are we, as are those who share their lives with us.
Telling ourselves that isn't sufficient. You have to feel it.
I had one of those moments a week ago Tuesday. It was warm for November and how many of those days might be left, so after deadline, I hopped on the Green Line and ended up at Buckingham Fountain at sunset with the vertical skyline to the west, the horizontal lake to the east, and overhead a wide, open sky filled with wispy cirrus clouds that caught the fading light, turning pastel shades of rose and pink, the thumbnail moon dragged in the sun's wake. Free of deadline pressures and the thousand details involved in putting out a newspaper, I was released. The external and internal noise died down and other, better thoughts began to flow. I felt connected to everything, a quiet exhilaration--what James Joyce called "the holiness of the ordinary."
These are the moments we live for, but too often dismiss or discount because they're fleeting, transitory. These are the moments that remind us heaven on earth is not entirely beyond our reach.
Thank you for most this amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirit of trees and a true blue dream of sky and everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is Yes.