How could their beautiful, well-chosen words do anything but draw me to the keyboard to compose a list of things that I think are wonderful, the things for which I am thankful today?
* getting paid for babysitting with homemade chocolate chip cookies and homemade granola
* the lentil and veggie stew that came from the same awesome friend... who is also an awesome cook
* laughing at Jimmy Kimmel and Paul Rudd with her while the cookies cooled
* driving home in the dark with my son, both of us eating those warm treats
* a handmade Valentine's Day card from my niece
* sending a handmade Valentine's Day card to my daughter
* the bounty of love, affection, and presence that envelops me from all sides
* watching my tiny little doggie sniff at the grass, the bushes, the car tires, and nearly everything else she sees at her eight-inch line of sight, curious about everything she encounters
* the pure and unconditional nature of her love and loyalty to us
* the way that she can always tell if something is wrong with one of us - whether we are dealing with emotional, physical, or mental distress, she stays nearby until we are feeling better. Her empathy, her gentleness, her emotional connection to us is beautiful to behold and experience.
* taking long walks on warm days
* feeling the sweat bead up on my forehead and run down my temples - and not because I'm having a hot flash
* having the strength, the will, and the desire to exercise regularly
* the prospect of stringing together many days of long walks in the days, weeks, and months to come
* thinking of Leonie and her family who have enjoyed a hot summer during this same time that we have wrapped ourselves in robes and blankets to stay warm. For some reason, when I am cold, I am comforted by knowing that it is warm someplace and someone I know is enjoying the summer sun.
* the full moon sliced into slivers by the trees
* the pale pink blossoms on the trees
* the rise of the daffodils
* the refusal of most of the trees and bushes to be destroyed by the weight of the snow two weeks ago
* the simple but profound wonder of sending snail mail - I take it to the box at the end of my driveway. a stranger takes it out of that box and puts it in her truck, drives it to a building a few miles away, sends it through a sorting system, puts it into another truck or perhaps into a bag that will be put onto an airplance, and a certain time later, that letter ends up in the hands of the person to whom I sent it... most of the time.
* the way in which other strangers, some in brown outfits, some in outfits of other colors, show up at our front door with packages of all sizes, shapes, and weights
* the fact that they can leave those packages outside of our house if we aren't home - and we have never had a package stolen from our front steps or next to our garage
* finding letters or packages with my name on them either in the mailbox or at our front door and smiling with the recognition that someone else someplace else thought about me and trustingly went through that same process with me in mind
* the courage of my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters as they stand up against discrimination, ostracism, and isolation by some of my Christian brother and sisters
* the many Christians who are standing up against this same discrimination, apologizing for the short-sightedness and fear, ignorance and misunderstanding of Jesus' call on us to love one another, to put down our stones, and to go and sin no more
* remembering that Jesus didn't feed crowds of four or five thousand people - except for "the gays"
* the reminders that the only people Jesus got mad at were the religious people who were constantly challenging him for his association with social and religious outcasts, and his own disciples who often tried to keep children and needy people away from him
* the conversations, debates, blog posts, poetry, gab sessions, and other exchanges that are causing me to rethink my sometimes too-firmly-held-but-not-carefully-thought-out positions and figure out new and deeper ways to be who I am called to be in the world with and for others
* knowing that I am not alone when I acknowledge the fact that as my mind is being changed, I risk the loss of respect and communion with some folks whose opinions I used to share and agree with. There is a cost to taking a stand like this.
* watching a documentary about the Supreme Court decision on Loving vs. Virginia, the case that struck down all state laws that prohibited inter-racial marriage. I love that their names were Richard and Mildred Loving. They simply asked to be allowed to do their loving however and wherever they wanted. I am in the middle of watching (and discussing) it with my son, who is himself a product of the freedom granted by that decision.
* This is my second or third time watching it, and it makes me get emotional every time. What brave people they were. What courage it took for them to fight that battle and set an example for their three children of how to stand up for what you know is right, even in the face of danger and opposition. Even when that danger and opposition comes from the government, the police, and one's own neighbors and fellows townspeople. I am glad to know that the decision was unanimous.
* reestablishing the habit of kissing my 17-year-old goodnight and saying a bedtime prayer with him After all, who in the world is too old to be kissed and prayed with before drifting off to sleep? To be clear, I am usually the one going to bed when we kiss and pray, not him.
* The most wonderful thing right now is simple: I am alive. We are alive. And as long as we are alive, there is hope for the future, a future that can be built with love, courage, hope, faith in the midst of the pain, loss, suffering, and fear. We can find beauty and wonder all around us and within us. Thanks be to God.