Thanks Enough

November 25, 2020 | Tags: , , , , , ,

Never before, in my experience, has Thanksgiving looked like this — the turkey waiting to be roasted while the guest list dwindles to our immediate household, all of us advised not to gather. Instead, we are asked to shelter in place on a day usually marked by hauling out extra leaves for the table, extra chairs from the corners of rooms and extra dishes from the basement shelves.

Perhaps the only extras we will need this year are extra measures of patience and, yes, gratitude as we head into the last month of a year that has brought so much loss and uncertainty.

Revisiting past messages I posted on Thanksgiving, I found these words from 2017:

But what about the heaviness that might outweigh this true and simple gratitude on the balance scale in our hearts? What about those who come to the table for the first time without a loved one departed since last Thanksgiving? Or those who come with the weight of other losses of body, mind or spirit? Or those who bring the weight of history telling us this holiday feast is neither as innocent nor as laudable in its origins as some of us have believed? What do we do with losses like these when we say grace?

What I know about gratitude is that it’s not easily contained. It works something like yeast. It’s meant to grow. Just a little gratitude for the smallest blessing – a bite of good food, a gesture of kindness – given the right conditions, can spread to places in my heart where I never expected to feel it. Right there, in the midst of my sorrow and despair, my fear and my anger, I have felt gratitude moving gently among these big muscular emotions all jostling for my attention. It slips right in beside them, not competing with them but quietly offering to carry their load for a while. Like yeast, gratitude not only expands; it lifts and leavens our hearts as it does, opening us to both the beauty and the brokenness of our lives. It always makes room for more. Gratitude does not deny either our pain or our painful history; rather it helps shoulder the weight of grief and truth, so we can imagine and begin to live our way, with honesty and hope, into a better future.

So yesterday, I woke up to record this poem calling me from my sleep:

Thanks enough

Sitting down at a table
set for one
            (or two or four,
     no more)
I tell myself it is enough,
  though I do not know
if I believe it.

Enough to smell
and savor this meal,
   (so many now not smelling)
to taste this wine
and water
   (so many now not tasting). 

To thank and bless
the ones who grew
and gathered this food
and those who stocked
and sold it—may they
be safe and well
   (so many now not well).

I tell myself
it is enough
and ask if I
believe it.

I name the loved ones
all departed,
and tell myself it was enough,
certain I do not
believe it.
The time we shared
  too short,
the absence now
  too sure.

But enough to find their memories
now seated in my heart
as truly as the table chairs
stand empty.

To name the gifts that linger,
long tailings of love
that bless my days
and also my sorrow.

I tell myself
it is enough—
  and yes, I do believe it.
To be here.
To have this day.
To know this love.
To say these thanks
and mean it.


However you spend the holiday this week, I hope you are in the shelter of a grateful heart, making room for all that is rising from this time — the heartbreak, the loneliness, the love and the hope.


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