gosh darn grateful

by bam

the arithmetic of november is a fine tally indeed. it’s the month where we begin to add up all the wonders of our year, the graces large and small.

the ones that make our hearts go whoosh, as if niagara falls (see delicious cupcake above), and the itty-bitty whispers of holy hallelujah (as when we catch our little one, say, giving us a backrub, just because he sees the worry on our brow).

when you pause for just a minute, maybe long enough to grab a pen and paper, for this accounting-in-the-works, you can, if you give it half a chance, get swooshed right over, for all the goodness that’s come round.

oh, lord, i know, there is heartache plenty. there were days and nights, perhaps, when you thought you couldn’t breathe, what with all the drama in the wings. and there’ve been bedtime pillows, too, soaked with tears. and hours spent on knees, praying for holy miracles to dash away (fill in your blank).

but, here, on the brink of this national time-out for cranberries and thanks, i find myself, in slow moments, in the breaths between the thoughts, beginning to accumulate a swath of holy blessings…..

i begin with the very girl i’d spent a lifetime dreaming of, the one whose arrival woke me in the star-lit cloak of an april’s night, a night when tears and dreams-come-true came rushing, when over a phone line and millions of miles away, i heard her rustling, peeping, squeaking, in my brother’s arms, and felt my heart take flight.

oh, it aches to be so far away, but as i trace her every leap and bound, as i stockpile frequent flyer miles, i know we’ve years together down the road. we’ve tea rooms, and walks in the woods. we’ve story books, and some day, long long talks. if i’m as blessed as i hope i’ll be.

speaking of endless hours deep in conversation, there is the blessing of watching my 16-year-old turn to his beloved uncle david, the one who once took him from dawn till way past dusk on the el (that’s chicago’s elevated train), with no destination other than adventure, and who over the years has opened windows for him all around, from thelonious monk to qi gong, from homer to sartre to music made from water dripping in a pot.

oh, lord.

be still, my most humbled heart.

i count, too, the blessing of my cottage garden, the stubby little tree, with arms outstretched, who grows just beyond my window.

i count the bluestone path, the one that meanders, slows me in the way of ancient zen walks where each stone is placed to accentuate the pause. and so it is with my wiggly, sort-of-wobbly bluestones. more accident than art, but still, the effect is the same, you move slowly through my meandering garden, the one where blueberries and roses ramble side-by-side.

and what of the fact that i live in a creaky old house, a house that over the years we’ve nipped and tucked, stitched with windowseats and bookshelves in nearly every single room (save the bathroom, but hmm, there’s a thought)…

and what of my holy blessed friends who pull up here to the table, nearly every week, or only once a season? oh, thank God for them, for they’re among the closest to my heart, here in a world where we build bridges through words and shared story, where the village we carve is less one of geography and more one of common heartbeat.

and i’d be missing a whole chunk of my life if i didn’t say i’m thankful, so thankful, for the job i do most days (paid or not so very much). the one where i ask a zillion questions, poke around in places others rarely get to see, then sit before a keyboard and let the story spin. just this year, i’ve spent the night with a saint in a hospital kitchen, i’ve watched another genuflect on a city sidewalk to save an injured bird. i’ve worked with editors and writers who’ve leapt to my rescue and stood firm behind me, and i’ve cried hard and long as i watched some of the very best exit the newsroom, told to leave for good, after packing lifetimes into cardboard boxes.

before i move onto little graces–the wren who sang his heart out, the over-watered tree that didn’t die (yet), the cloudy days that brought me comfort–let me sweep my arms round the boys who put meaning to my days.

the tall one who lets me in his heart, through long and winding hours of seamless conversation, and nothin’-else-like-’em belly-bustin’ laughs, sitting side-by-side (often, these days, that would be as i ride shotgun and he’s the one behind the wheel, steering down the lane, er, oops, that was a stop sign, honey…).

and the little one, the one who takes my breath away each and every time i glimpse his tender side, the one stoked by his papa, yes indeed, and whenever i catch him, nearly always, leading with his heart.

there’s my mama to thank, too, for making every tuesday and thursday work like clockwork, even when i’m far away. and, on both those harried nights, for getting dinner to the table, and not just any dinner either, grammy dinner–stews and meatloafs, potatoes mashed, and peas frozen in a pouch, comfort foods, foods like mama used to make. oh, that’s right, she is my mama and she is, after all these years, still making weeknight dinners. all that’s left for me to do, those achy tired nights, is scrub the pots and pans, and sometimes she does even that.

oh, there’s more and more, the ones i love around the continent, from jersey shore to sunny california, from maine to arizona, with stops along the way.

there’s the bones that hold me up, at least for now. a word i learn that takes my breath away. an idea that’s new and even better.

i thank God for pillowcases crisp, and socks that don’t have holes. for books on tape that hold me rapt. and ones with pages, too. the ones i race to bed to read, but then, dag nab, i cannot stay awake.

i thank God for pomegranates and popcorn. for old jeans all full of holes, and the leggings worn beneath them, the ones that keep me from being charged with indecent exposure.

i thank God for gloomy moods that lift, and i’m sorrys from the heart. i thank God for friends who make me laugh so hard i fear i’ll, well, you catch that drift.

i thank God for the sky at dawn, and the quiet of the house at night, when all there is is my breathing and the tick-tock-tick of the old fine clock.

i could go on and on in this holy sacred litany of thanks. there is much, especially for those of us who take the time to add it up, as if a census of the heart.

my forms are filled, and i’ve only just begun.

for all of this and so much more, dear holy God, i thank you and i thank you.

all right, you blessed souls in all the chairs, pull in close and let it pour, the thanks with which you fill your heart….