On Thanksgiving morning, I sit wrapped in a robe inherited from the mother of a dear friend; it feels like a warm hug. Feeling winter’s chill, peaceful silence, the joy of good work to come … and wishing deeply to feel more gratitude than I presently do … I light two candles, sit silently with a cup of tea. I meditate on thankfulness.
There is much to be thankful for, as always. There is much to be concerned about, as always. Apollo reminds me to be concerned, to act with care, but points out that I know better than to let fear rule me, or even to let it guide my actions.
The building where I live is quiet. Our large population of college students has gone home to parents or traveled to grandparents or the homes of classmates – or wherever they have gone, they are not here. Our large population of elders has similarly dressed up and gone out, most to the homes of younger adults in their families, some to dinners with friends, a few to community dinners at congregations of various religions. The smell of Thanksgiving cooking is strong in a few places, but most people are out for the day.
The grocery store was jammed last night, most of us buying one or two things that look like ingredients or accessories rather than main dishes. Several young men (well, younger than me, I mean) ahead of me in line were carrying pies, or loaves of bread. A few bought bottles of wine.
Demeter reminds me that everything has a season, and it is past time for me to be paying attention to the seasons of this life.
One thing that I am grateful for – yes, I am, truly – is that I recognize that I am unlikely to live to see the end of the changes created by the Trump election. I need to acknowledge that, for good or ill, anything I put into motion is likely to shift and change before it is complete, and I am unlikely to see that completion.
Thanksgiving Eve, feeling despair, I sought guidance from Deities and the Mighty Dead.
“Demeter, Apollo, Brigid, Cernunnos, I call to you! Eleanor, Sojourner, Chief Seattle, I call to you! What do you foresee? What would Right Action look like?”
None of them told me what to expect, though I had hoped for warning. But I got some good advice.
Be grateful for what you have, but do not hold it tightly. Be willing to allow what will happen to happen.
Give your gifts freely.
Speak up in defense of those who are mistreated in your presence. Speak up in defense of the civil liberties you value. Do not allow your silence to become complicity.
Recognize that you are unlikely to survive forever in any event. Spend your life wisely. Make your moments count. Honor what you can honor.
Speak truth to power.
Tend your own garden. Support your neighbors.
Do you not know your neighbors? How can you remedy this lack?
Be in touch. Try new things. Wear your heart on your sleeve. Be courageous.
Spend your life wisely. Make it count. (yes, two different voices said the same thing).
Recognize that the institutions you most value will wither and die without your support.
Trust your own awareness; do not be turned from truth by a louder voice.
Today I am grateful for this tall building upon this high ground; I need not fear floods will drown my home.
I am grateful for electric power, for heat and light, for public water and sewer systems.
I give thanks for warm kith and kindred, for love and friendship, for courage, for harmony.
I give thanks for the welcoming smiles of community, for neighbors who are kind to one another.
I give thanks for the leadership of those who have more experience than I.
I give thanks for their experience, and acknowledge my shame that I feel grateful to have missed the harsher moments of their experience. I acknowledge the sin of imagining things were better than they were, and are.
I give thanks for mentors and colleagues.
I give thanks for citizens who are awake.
I give thanks for the spotlight presently shining on whiteness, and its many sins; those of us who are seen as white, especially in not realizing the strength of whiteness around us; as well as the sins created by those before us, structures that mask inequity even as they create it.
I give thanks for the spotlight presently shining on the embarrassing, painful distance between our professed aspirations and our actions.
I give thanks for the pain of rude awakening.
In my thankfulness, I have sorrow and regret.
I regret the many times I have let my emotions overwhelm my serenity and shatter the peace of those around me. I give thanks for the serenity that is finally arriving with age.
I regret my refusal to see what was so visibly around me: the indifference and disregard, the casual acceptance of privilege and the casual dismissal of those who have less of it, the lip service to what is least important. I give thanks for the opportunity to make amends.
I regret my many failures to accept other people as they are, rather than as I wish they would choose to be. I give thanks for the people who have accepted me as I am.
I regret wasting my energy trying to change people who do not wish to change, nor seek to grow, and I regret my failures to find ways to change what they do in my name. I give thanks for the realization that I must work for change, even when it feels hopeless.
I regret my cowardice in allowing what I should have changed. I give thanks for courage.
I regret my foolishness, my unthinkingness, my casual disregard. I give thanks for a new day in which to begin again, in love.
I am thankful for what wisdom I possess.
Today I am also grateful for Facebook, which we will need to watch more carefully now that we have discovered how much ‘fake news’ is there, and how quickly bad ideas can go viral. But on Facebook this week there are 20 ‘lessons from the twentieth century’ offered by Professor Timothy Snyder, I think on Tuesday. I don’t have room to repeat them here, but the first one is:
“Do not obey in advance.”
We have much to be grateful for. Let us pay attention, wake up, and stay woke.
— Maggie Beaumont