Thursday, November 28, 2019

Carolinian Thanksgiving -- Beauty and Remembrance of Darkness

I'm sitting on the porch steps as I write, and our black and white boxer mutt, barricaded onto the porch, with her cone on (she's stitched up from a violent encounter with an angry deer) has her head over the barricade and is looking down at me imploringly to let her come out and chase squirrels. She whimpers and squeaks and looks at me with huge brown eyes. Her soft, silky, short-fur black and white face almost melts me. But I don't want to go running after her into the woods for squirrels. I want to sit here and write about this day.

In the Piedmont of North Carolina, autumn color lasts through Thanksgiving. The great forests of loblolly pine are mixed reddish brown oaks of all sorts, and the yellow starry leaves of sweet gum. Glorious golden American beech leaves stay on the tree into winter and even often into spring, only falling off when the new leaves push them off. The wooded hillside rising up from the seasonal stream that runs in a dip between the hills on the other side of our gravel road is a profusion of golden beeches, their white gray silvery trunks gleaming in morning sunlight. The sky is blue and the air is crisp and gusts of wind in the treetops send leaves coming down, pattering around me with their soft, crinkly landings. 

Craig (dear reader, remember we all have aliases around here) has stacked up logs and kindling next to the ring of stones where there will be a bonfire so there will be an outside place for our many Thanksgiving guests to gather. Our home in the woods is small but we have decided to have lots of people here to celebrate this year. The children all helped with the cleaning and  baking yesterday, the extra tables are set up, the turkey is in the oven smelling of the copious amounts of fresh rosemary, thyme, parsley, sage, butter and garlic rubbed all over it and under its skin. I'm grateful for the thousands of meals I have cooked in my life that make days like this easy rather than panicky and unsure. 

When all these people we love are here, we will say a liturgy for Thanksgiving day together and I will feel deep gratitude for the rich fellowship God has given us in this place. The dogs will get their special bones to eat out on the porch while we are feasting inside so they won't be underfoot and begging at every elbow.

I'm grateful to feel rich with hope and life and joy in this season after many seasons of darkness and anxiety in past years. I'm grateful for eyes and ears and nose and a brain able to process and take delight in the thousands of divine gifts of beauty given to me everyday. I'm grateful for the sort of mind that notices them, so that beauty and joy and delight come easily to me. Anxiety and depression rob the mind's ability to take delight in such small things as the fresh cut end of a stick of beechwood in a woodpile.

To all of you who are trapped in that darkness where beauty is so hard to come by take hope. Such darkness does not last forever and its greatest power is in the lie that it does. Your heart will sing again. You are not lost till the end of the ages in this haze. Love and freedom are seeking you. They will come. 

Blessings on you, friends. Happy Thanksgiving.

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