Thursday, September 19, 2013

Thankful Thursday - these weeks fly by so fast...

It's not that I feel like life is going past quickly.

Well, that's not entirely true - sometimes it seems like life is flying past. Like, I cannot believe I am 47 years old, turning 48 in December. I cannot believe that my son is about to turn 17 and my daughter is about to turn 20! Very soon I will have a child in "her 20s"!!! How is that possible? I still feel like I'm 35 - tops. So, yes, on the one hand, it does seem like life is moving past me.

On the other hand, these weeks seem to be dragging past. Is it only Thursday? I feel like 17 days have passed since last Thursday. I've had to come up with dinner ideas almost every night, and that makes it feel like every day is twice as long as it needs to be. Mercifully, my daughter pitches in and cooks once or twice each week. If she didn't, we would eat cereal or oatmeal for dinner often. Very often.

Anyway, here I am in the middle of another Thankful Thursday. Counting my many blessings. Giving thanks. Living in wonder, love, grace, and gratitude for all that God is doing, all that we are doing as a family, all that I am doing as a wife, mother, daughter, friend, and individual, and also looking foward with anticipation and hope towards all that is yet to come.

What am I grateful for today?

* Last Tuesday, 9 days ago, I had a serious disagreement with my beloved son. No need to share the details here, but our discussion ended with me in tears and him in silence. His silence and anger, my frustration and anger lasted for a week. Then this past Tuesday, I told him that I had looked forward to this year of homeschooling with him too much to allow it to slide away in silence and anger. So we talked, we listened, we cried, and we worked it out. Cleared the air. And now we are back to laughing, talking, and the usual teenage silence and nail-biting. I can live with that. And, Lord, Lord, Lord, am I grateful to be back on speaking terms with my beloved son, in whom I am well-pleased.

* I am grateful for the therapy of journal writing. I can carry my journal with me almost all the time so that I can whip it out, along with my favorite pen and pull the cork on my heart and let the wine/whine of life flow onto the pages. I attribute much of my mental health, the strength of my faith, and the stability of most of my relationships to journaling - I pour out most of what confounds and irritates me onto those ever-available pages so that when I am dealing with people face-to-face, I've already processed most of the tough stuff. I also list dozens of things and people I am grateful for. I write down stories and jokes I hear. I make lists of things I want to do, places I want to go, and people I want to meet in person. I jot down details from daytime dreams and nighttime dreams as well. I keep track of questions I have for my many doctors and other caretakers. I outline detailed plans of what I will do if (when?) I will the Powerball lottery. Plus, as Oscar Wilde wrote: "I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train."

* Last weekend, I had the chance to spend a day and a night with a dear friend who lives in Durham, North Carolina. She took me for a long walk in the Duke Gardens. What a beautiful place!

What beautiful people we saw there - a quinceaƱera with her birthday court, the girls in hot pink and grey dresses and the boys in grey suits. I wished her a happy birthday as we walked past the photo shoot. (I couldn't resist taking photos of them. That impressive looking group was more than twice the size of my wedding party.) And this precious little girl wearing her gold and black ball gown.

* This little fella didn't want to leave the geese behind. His father had already walked away, but he stood and watched his feathery friends for a few more minutes. His father eventually returned, and although I couldn't understand what they were saying, I imagine that Daddy was trying to convince the young zoologist-ornithologist that the geese would be there on their next visit as well.

* I am enormously grateful for the dear, dear friend who led me on my tour, regaling me with stories of the gardens, the donors who support the gardens, and the lovely city of Durham.

* Earlier this week, I went to a nearby gas station to vacuum my car and go through the car wash. That in itself is something to be grateful for - although on the way home, I was annoyed with myself that I had spent $10 on two things I could easily do myself... Anyway, before I vacuumed the car, I checked the floors to make sure there wasn't anything there that I would hate to lose into that high-powered dust buster. I found a small piece of a dreadloc. Immediately, I was reminded that I used to have a lot more hair. I was reminded of how much I liked the color of my locs. Within seconds, tears welled up in my eyes as I thought about how much kanswer truly sucks. Almost as quickly, though, joy welled up as I thought about how far I've come in the past ten months. Yes, folks, I was diagnosed more than ten months ago, on November 6th, 2012. These have been the longest ten months of my life - but also the most enlightening and empowering. I had no idea how strong, how determined, how hopeful, how angry, how disgusted, how frightened, how courageous, how resilient, and how healthy I could be until this terrible thing happened to me. And all of that raced through my mind while holding a little chunk of red hair.

* I am grateful that I rediscovered the two books Gibbs lent me: Silence and Solitude and Attention/Intention. They are published by The Contemplative Outreach folks, and each one provides 40 days of readings on how to live a life centered on prayer and meditation on God's Word. (Sorry I've had them so long, Gibbs. I promise to return them when I'm done with them...)

* This morning's reading reminded me of a simple, profound, and often uncomfortable truth - "Everything is a grace."  --> "In Jesus' teaching, sacred places (and sacred people) are not essential for someone to be able to enter the Kingdom of God. The sacred place is where you are. It is ordinary life. This is what transformation is about. It is not going on pilgrimage or entering a special state of life. It is how we live where we are. What Therese (of Lisieux) called the 'Little Way' is quite simple the circumstances of everyday life and what we do with them. 'Everything is a grace' was one of her favorite sayings - a saying that while right to the point, is still terribly hard to grasp. How, we may ask, can everything be a grace?" 

I read tomorrow's reading as well. It adds: "She (Therese) gave her daily actions to God, working without hurry to stay in the present moment. She refused nothing given to her. She learned to prefer whatever happened." 

*** This is one of the things I am most grateful for in my life, not only on Thankful Thursdays - I am grateful for the increasing desire and ability to accept all that my life entails, to consent to the life that is mine, and to be transformed by what I experience and learn. Instead of immediately resisting the difficulties I encounter, I am learning to sit in them, to marinate in them, and to listen to the lessons they are teaching me. It's not always easy; heck, it's not ever easy. But I am determined to learn my lessons well, to share what I'm learning, and to deepen my love for and life with God in, through, and because of the little, ordinary circumstances of my life.

1 comment:

Heather Alderman said...

Dear Gail - you are a very wise woman and that wisdom and the humility with which you express it are profoundly inspirational. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, your life, your struggles and your victories. Wishing you all good things.