Thursday, November 22, 2012

Gratitude central

It is Thanksgiving morning in America. I was up early, out walking the dog under a bright blue, gently lightening sky. I came back to a quiet house where my sons, beautiful and big-hearted young men now, were asleep. I love it when the house is full and quiet.

The turkey was in its briny bath, cooling where I had prepped it the night before. I set to work chopping vegetables, boiling eggs, and mincing parsley for the cornbread dressing. It is a bittersweet day, full of love as I prepare foods I know my family enjoys. Yet that mother-shaped vacuum persists—the holiday hole where my mother used to be.

While I enjoy the family time at Thanksgiving, my gratitude has now burst the bounds of the day. These days I actually do find myself grateful for it all. Pain and loss have played a significant role in my life: childhood trauma, the loss of dreams, divorce. Yet, inexplicably, these profound wounds, these scars, have become treasures. I find past hurts adding a texture and richness to who I am.

Often I experience each moment of each day from a place of gratitude. And even when I slide toward those dark places, gratitude is there, keeping me tethered to joy until I can resurface from whatever I am wrestling with, to breathe again.

How did I, to my own surprise, arrive here? The road was long and rocky, let me tell you. And I’ve had oceans of help along the way. The usual suspects appeared: therapy, deep friendships, 12-step work. But my spiritual practice has been the most transformative. Meditation has become my friend and, at times, my challenger. It has enabled me to really show up, to stay intensely present in the moment, regardless of the situation. In moments of profound loss, I am completely there. In moments of joyful play, able to abandon myself to it.

And so, gratitude is my steady companion. I breathe it in on this Thanksgiving Day. And I embrace it on all the others.

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