The counting. Five years of the counting, one, two, three…fifteen, thirty-six, seventy-nine, one-hundred and….one thousand and….four thousand and…
The counting, the naming, the recognizing, the owning, the defining, the planting.
Naming the gifts, the gratitude, regardless of feeling, regardless of fear, regardless of suffering. Continuing the counting, returning each new morning, the mercy fresh, the coffee hot, the eyes weary, body unsure. Notebooks, iPad, phone – surfaces for my counting. Numbers now in the five-thousands after the decade’s half. Choosing, honoring, naming the simple, the seeming small.
Clem’s soft ears, her carpeted paws
Laughing for a moment
A big ice cream cone at the end
Recognizing incriminating voices
A friend’s kindness
Sleeping through a movie
Delicious soup while cleaning out the fridge
A fast run
The counting a balm for the swiss cheese of my soul, filling up my emptiness, my longing, the severe lack with no name, no reason. Everything good, my home, marriage, family, health – but the shortness I felt, the need to eat, the need to purchase, the need to earn. The need to be noticed and wanted.
The counting a comfort, the weight of my world lightened through the paltry, insignificant recognition – how a bird floats on a stream of wind, a dog’s furry face through a car window, retrieving a piece of litter. Each thing, minor as it may be, evidence of good, evidence of just, evidence of hope.
This Thanksgiving I must admit my disappointment. This country founded upon noble principles, the execution horrific. The people, the groups, the hate, the suffering – all for me to have the freedoms I do. I’m not so sure I like this price paid on my behalf.
Thanksgiving, a national holiday, to take pause and commemorate our forefathers, the feast possibly had alongside our Native American predecessors. I’m not proud. The atrocities unnamed, unaccounted, unconfessed, unrepented. The unjust perpetration on black and brown bodies, the violent rhetoric aimed at our LGBTQ, the call to slam the gates on the world’s most needy and vulnerable. The fear minimizing our believed greatness.
Yet, I still eat the turkey and trimmings. I will lay down stuffed, vowing to never eat again. I will express my sincere gratitude around the table with a sampling of the people I love the most in this life…alongside this bitter disappointment.
Maybe this counting, this naming is the beacon lighting toward incremental change. Maybe this intentional awareness of the smallest, tenderest, most simple of things is an opportunity to stand defiant, to stand unyielding in the face of apathetic cruelty.
When we recognize and name our thanks, we can recognize and name our need. When we recognize and name our gifts, we can recognize and name our weakness. When we recognize and name our abundance, we can recognize and name our scarcity.
In recognizing and naming our gratitude, we uncover the unleashing of limitless love lavished upon us.
I will stand firm this Thanksgiving season. I will see my world. I will witness the incredible abundance through beauty that pours out, pooling. I will honor this beauty while I also witness the suffering, the need. For through this recognition, we are privy to the smallest glimpse of love coming down, living and dwelling with us.
My thanksgiving is the greatest defense I own, for in this counting I see faithfulness, I see mercy, I see beauty and I see tremendous generosity.
This Thanksgiving I will fervently cling to peace, for fear has no place at my table. As I break and eat the bread, drink the wine, I stand resolute in proclaiming life over death.
*One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp started me on this remarkable journey of counting.