Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thankful Thursday

I am grateful for this beautiful, sunny, crisp fall Thursday. I am grateful for my scarves and boots and pairs of thick socks.

I am also grateful for Erika, who challenged me to remember that not everyone likes cool mornings and crisp afternoons and chilly nights - homeless people and others who spend most of their time outside don't welcome the temperature change, nor do they have the luxury of merrily sipping a pumpkin spice latte or a green tea latte with soy milk and no sweetener (which is my preferred indulgence) while appreciating the change of seasons.

I am grateful for the abundance of fall vegetables and fruits available at the supermarket these days.
I am grateful for two recent encounters with folks selling local produce and honey and baked goods.

I am grateful for the smily face drawn into the dust on a glass sculpture at the Mint Museum. As I stood and looked at one of Jon Kuhn's magnificent pieces, I thought, "It sure needs to be dusted." That's when I saw the art drawn on the art. I would never be bold enough to touch a sculpture in a museum, nevermind draw something on it. I chuckled at the brazenness of that art defiler/dust artist.

I am grateful that regular gas has dropped below $3 per gallon in our fair city.

I am grateful for the flowers and chocolate chip cookies we received in exchange for our unused, though perfectly functional ping pong table. One less space-consuming, dust-gathering thing in our garage.

I am grateful for those who have put their lives at risk to work with the thousands who are affected by the ebola virus, the wars in Gaza, refugees in Iraq, the displaced in Afghanistan, and people who are suffering elsewhere. I am grateful for the opportunity and ability to contribute financial assistance.

I am grateful for the time I was able to spend with Kasandra and her two young children on Tuesday. Talking. Laughing. Changing diapers. Watching airplanes take off and land at the airport overlook. For those of you who are praying people, please pray for her - she is on a difficult kanswer journey. She is only 30 years old, has three young children, and is about to embark on an aggressive treatment protocol that will last for many months.

I am grateful for the many stories of victory over kanswer I have heard lately. I watched an episode of Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta last night - it was actually called Say Yes to the Cure because the owner of the salon, Lori, had a breast kanswer challenge in 2012, only a couple of months before mine. There was an African-American woman profiled on last night's show who has had breast kanswer twice, ovarian kanswer, and at the time of taping was dealing with lung kanswer. Such strength. Such beauty. Why was she featured on Say Yes to the Dress? Because she and her husband were about to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. They said that she had spent 23 of their 25 years together dealing with kanswer in one way or another. There was much weeping and even more rejoicing on their special day.  I am thankful that I saw that show. I too cried - not that it takes much to get me going - for them and with them and also for myself and everyone who has had to deal with this dreadful disease. We are strong. We are survivors. We are here. And those whose battles ended in death, like my father, at least they aren't suffering anymore. I know they are missed, but no one misses kanswer when it's gone.

I am grateful to be on this side of treatment and on this side of the grave. I am grateful to be able to share my story with others in person, as I did with Kasandra, and also by video. For those of you who haven't seen it yet, this is my story.

I am grateful for Rick who asked me, "What was the miracle for today?" Apparently he remembered a recent Sunday School class in which I said that I see miracles everyday. What was my miracle for yesterday - which was the day he asked? I avoided two car accidents yesterday on my way to church. 
Confession: in one case, my music was playing so loudly that I didn't hear the ambulance approaching and had to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting the stopped car in front of me. I wondered why that driver stopped so suddenly, then I saw the ambulance. Oops - I guess I'd better turn my tunes down...

My miracle for today is multi-layered; I suppose I should make it plural. I have experienced several miracles today.  
* This morning, I went to Target to say good-bye to a wheelchair bound employee there who is soon to retire. I have seen him there for years and he has always been friendly towards me and my family. When I went through kanswer treatment and didn't go shopping very often, he would ask Kristiana how I was doing. He will retire in three weeks, and because I didn't want to miss him, I went in this morning to wish him well. From there, I went to the library to vote early. From the library, I went to Trader Joe's and bought groceries. Early this afternoon, I went to Benjamin Moore paints to purchase supplies to have our bathrooms updated - we are having the wallpaper removed and all the walls painted. After I put the paint in my car, I went to the bagel store two doors down and picked up a few rings of doughy delight to bring home for breakfast tomorrow. Less than half an hour later, I took our dog to the groomer. 

The miracle? I did all those things and got home safely. No accidents. Not even any near misses. You don't think those are miracles worth being grateful for? Ask the family of the man or woman or child who won't get home safely today. The family members of the loved one who will be injured or diagnosed or even pass away today - they will tell you that safe travel and safe returns are miraculous.

* I have never grown spaghetti squash or bananas or oats or chick peas or red peppers or tomatoes or kale or romaine lettuce or apples or lemons or limes. I have never made hummus or coconut milk or pizza dough or pepperoni or almond butter or kombucha from scratch. I have never laid a floor or installed a refrigerator or ordered food from a warehouse or programmed a cash register or hired a stock person or unloaded a delivery truck. 

The miracle? Someone had the foresight to plant and water and weed and reap at the right times so that we can eat. Someone grew the food, fed the animals, harvested, slaughtered, plucked, canned, wrapped, sealed, delivered, unpacked, shelved, and sold these miraculous things to me and you and countless others.  

* I have never cut down a rubber tree, worked in a steel mill, molded hard plastic, created glass panels, or even pondered the electronics necessary to create and control the car I drive. I don't know the function of a carburetor or a ball joint - which makes me an easy target for unscrupulous mechanics, I realize - but someone invented those and many other car parts so that I can go to the library and the supermarket and the vet's office and church. Tomorrow morning, I expect it will transport me to one friend's house so that together we can go visit another friend who recently had a baby. (Don't get me started on the miracle of conception, pregnancy, childbirth, and new life. We get to bring people into the world with hearts, minds, lives, and souls of their own. Is there any greater miracle than that?)

I have never fully comprehended the way airplanes work - all that stuff, all those people, all that fuel, up in the air, across land and sea. Air pressure controlled. Food and beverages provided (sometimes). Cargo below. Steel panels above. Turbulence withstood. Pilots. Autopilot. Flight attendants. Air marshalls. Up in the air. Zipping across the sky. 

The miracle? Isn't every vehicle a miracle? Isn't every safe passage truly a miracle? Isn't every meal a miracle? Isn't it a miracle to wake up in your bed, alive, still breathing, with your heart still beating, your house still standing, your family members and loved ones still alive? Isn't every day above ground truly miraculous? 

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