a centenary of thank you…
as i type, a boy i love, one just home from college, is lumpily sleeping on the yonder side of my typing room’s ceiling. that’s a blessing come true, a thank you of the very first order. while he warms the sheets, i’m down below, pounding away on a litany of 100 thank you’s. enchanted by celtic and jewish and ignatian understanding that we are called to anoint the holy hours of our every day with blessing — 100 blessings precisely, in the case of the jews — i decided to unspool my own centenary of thanks across the arc of a day.
this counting of blessings was sparked because i was asked to bring a sheaf of prayer to a thanksgiving vigil, and this seemed an apt response. in this season of bountiful thanks, as we gather roots from the ground, and fowl from the field, i march through time, sewing blessing into the whole cloth of my day. (it’s a might bit long, so you might want to take this in doses, a swallow here, another there. forgive me for counting clear to 100…)
a centenary of blessing, of deep and undying Thank You…
In the liminal landscape between asleep and awake, thank you, Holy One, for heart still beating, for breath, for first thought, the one that tickles us into consciousness. Thank you for darkness before dawn, morning after morning a reawakening to the metaphor, the truth, that in our darkest hour we might hold on just one more minute, for surely the stars will dim, and horizon’s edge will be doused in tourmaline and tangerine, and finally radiant gold. (4)
Thank you, by the way, for celestial paint set.
Thank you for bed, and blanket. Thank you for the one I love who lies beside me, whose breathing I know by heart. Thank you for the lump that’s warm, that’s there when I reach across sheets in the night, in the morning. Thank you for deepening love and the long winding road that brought him to me, to my heart.
Thank you for the dawn itself, that sacred cloak of in-between, when crescent moon dangles just above, but night gives way to morning’s light, and heaven’s dome, at the seam of earth and sky, soaks up scant threads of all-absorbent amber rose. Thank you for the stillest hour when all that moves is barest breeze that rustles leaves, and far off, the stirrings of the lake that never cease. (13)
Thank you for this old house, with arthritic floor boards, ones that creak at just the same juncture, with just the same footfall. Thank you for kitchen, and heat that is cranked. Thank you for whiny old cat there at the door. Thank you for coffee beans and hissing pot, and the old chipped mug that fits snug in my palms. (20)
Dear Maker of All That’s Blessed, thank you for the sound of those footsteps clomping onto the floorboards above, and the certitude that — so far this day — all is well. Thank you for shower, hot and pulsing and shaking off sleepy-eyed resistance to standing upright.
Thank you for porridge I stir at the cookstove. Thank you for the sustenance I dollop in spoonfuls, the alchemy of cooking for those we fuel for the day. Thank you for faith in the vespers unfurled, in between handfuls of raisins and walnuts and jewel-toned dried fruits, the ones we toss with abandon into the bubbling pot.
Thank you for clementines, and sugary cinnamon. Thank you for butter, slathered and melted. Thank you for school bus drivers who wait. Thank you for the click of the door when at last the morning rush is over, is ended, and no one is reaching for car keys, muttering under her breath.
Thank you, Blanketer of Wonder, for the quiet stitched into the morning’s hours, the quiet so thick I can drink in the tick and the tock of a grandfather’s clock. And the squawk of the bluejay, and the chatter of sparrows. (35)
Thank you for work to be done. Thank you for dishes piled in the sink, whose scrubbing and rinsing gives me a moment to think, to ponder the day. Thank you for typewriter keys who call me, and fingers that play on the alphabet rows. Thank you for sentences that write themselves, and words that are birthed from deep down inside.
Thank you for wisdom, the sort that comes in unexpected flashes, when you only know you’ve found it as you feel your heart go thumpety-thump, and you sit bolt upright, or feel the goosebumps sprout up and down unsuspecting flesh. That wisdom might come reading along the pages of news, or in a poem slipped under your transom, or from a stranger passing by. Plenty often, it comes through the holy gospel of a wonder child, as you catch one last phrase tossed over a shoulder at the schoolhouse door.
Thank you for all that’s poetry — wisdom-steeped or just plain beautiful, breath-taking. And thank you for Gospel of any brand — be it birthed from holy child, everyday saint, or even the so-called kook who stands on the street corner, proclaiming through a megaphone.
Thank you, yes, for telephones, for that rare sound of a voice that nestles against the tenderest heart. That, within the first breath of the very first syllable, brings comfort, collapses miles and aloneness, amplifies the hours absorbed in coming to this holy bond of deep knowing each other, inside and through.
Thank you even for the bits of news — of whatever ilk, good or bad or nasty — that percolate the hours of each day, make one slice of time so vastly different from the next, stitch drama to the script of life, offer us the chance to absorb each and every frame from an angle never before perceived. (45)
Thank you, most of all, for the deep down knowing that you, Holy Depth and Gentleness, never leave me adrift. Never let my quakings take me down. Ever bring me light, and tender touches. Ever hold me up, against the chilling winds. And bring me to communion with all that’s glorious and bountiful in this rugged, rugged landscape.
I might be among the few who salute the cloudy skies of November on my long list of thanks. Ah, but those angora gray skies, they comfort me, harbor me. I’ll take the somnolence, the introspection of a gray day any day. So thank you for cloudy and gray.
And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how thankful I am for hearts that continue to tick, day in and day out, despite the trials we toss their way, as we worry and fret, then, without notice, shriek in deep joy and excitement. Poor ol’ heart, the one that landed in me anyway, it might not have realized it was signed on for a roller-coaster ride of such seismic proportion.
Speaking of ticking, thank you for the schoolhouse clock that does just that, minute by minute, hour upon hour, heartbeat against the wall.
Thank you, too, for windows. And for the flutterings and flashes just beyond the glass, as clouds of gentle creatures take off and land, from sky to limb and back again — each time, lifting just a little bit of my soul.
Thank you for doors, the ones that let in unexpected someones, someones we love. And keep out the wind and the cold.
Thank you for fires that roar and logs that crackle. Thank you for the one that’s turning the so-called sleeping room, across from the kitchen, into a chamber of flickering gold. Thank you for the two lumps under blankets, snoozing by the fire as I sit here, now typing. (59)
Thank you, Lighter of Night, for the cloak of darkness that comes early now, velvety backdrop for twinkling of stars, and moon that holds me, most every eve, in its trance.
Thank you for dusk, dear Lighter of Light, the far edge of the day, beginning of nightfall, when the last seeds of illumination are scattered, are rosy.
Thank you for dinner hour, and the blessing of slow simmering stew. Thank you for the bounty of greens from your earth, and spices from pods and seeds and stamens.
Thank you, God, for the trees and the gnarly limbs, and the hummingbird now buried deep in my garden.
Thank you for candlelight. And the lights of Your making: moonlight and sunlight and dappled radiance scattered like seed across the landscape. Thank you for twinkling stars and streaking ones, too — chalk marks etched across the slate of the night sky. (76)
Thank you for drifting off to sleep, and dreams that color our imagination. Thank you even for revelations that come to us in the awful interludes of tossing and turning. Thank you for wanting to wake up again, to climb from the bed. Thank you for the blankets we tuck under the chin of our sleeping child.
Thank you, dear God, for the child. For the breathtaking chance to infuse all that’s good in this world. Thank you for lessons taught while holding a hand, or wiping a tear. Thank you for band-aids that quell the hurt, and words that do the same. Thank you for everyone who lifts up our child, the teachers who inspire, the coaches who are kind. And the lady down the block who never fails to plant a fat wet kiss on that child’s pink cheek. (90)
Thank you for the year drawing to a close, and this pause to nod our heads and whisper gratitude. Thank you for the kaleidoscope of turning season, the ever-shifting call to attention. Thank you for crunching leaves, and tumbling snow flake.
Thank you for love in all its iterations. For birth, and death, and all that animates the interstitial hours. Thank you for those who walk beside us, who put a hand to the small of our back, or reach out to carry us across the bottomless abyss. (100)
Thank you, God, for all of this. And more. So, so much more.
in this octave of blessing, i have a most special request: a dear and old friend of mine suffered unthinkable heart-shattering this week. she is a seeker of joy, and she finds it. but this week, she was tested beyond measure. i have faith that she will gather up the shards of joy all around. but i ask you to hold her in your prayers — and, too, her beloved, now gone from this earth.
what do you count in your centenary of thanksgiving?
I am so very thankful for so much, starting with the fact that I am alive, have shelter and food to keep me going, and so much love in my life that I often feel overwhelmed by all of it! I am thankful for the tiny bits of wisdom and knowledge that come with my age, and I am thankful for grand children who remind me to remain young at heart. I am thankful for the beauty of the world that surrounds me, and I am thankful for the hopes I have for the world to come. Happy Thanksgiving to all who gather here! And, of course, I will pray for your dear friend.
bless you, dear jack. and thank you. thank you for you.
I love reading your words. I’m only sorry that I have been unable to attend your book readings and I’m not able to hear Blair talk about the cultural center. My loss
Andrea Lavin Solow
you sweet angel. i am sorry there were SO many words this week. i just got intrigued by the notion of counting to 100 blessings. xoxo
because wendell berry always answers the call, here is wendell for a misty saturday november morning….
The Wild Geese
by Wendell Berry
Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer’s end. In time’s maze
over fall fields, we name names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed’s marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.
I just loved this litany. And finding a Wendell Berry poem I didn’t know about.Thankful for a husband who has gotten groceries, hauled me to doctor’s visits, picked up prescriptions, walked the dog again and again and again over the last 4 weeks while I recovered from being sick. And so thankful for my wonderful boy flying home this evening for Thanksgiving.
dear mary, i am so sorry to read that you’ve been sick. four weeks = very sick. it is a beautiful thing to be taken care of. and i love that your wonderful boy is flying home. i was in tears at least five times in the five minutes we were waiting for our boy to descend the escalator. at the first sight of him, it was everything i could do not run up the down escalator!
I am thankful for the gift of memories. My heart is warmed by the thought of all your boys with you this week!
and this thanksgiving especially, i know those memories are tender ones. and i hope and pray they carry you across the abyss of heartache and missing….xoxoxox
My prayers are for your dear friend who has been called home. My cousin has been called home last friday, November 14th. So sad so close to the holiday for giving thanks for everything we have, but we can be thankful that our loved ones have been called home with our Lord. And, I just looked at the calendar and realized that today, November 24th, is the day my mother was called Home in 2009. How I miss her, but know she lives in my heart ❤
bless you. and most especially on today. i will hold you in my heart all day….
Barbara, I haven’t had words to reply, but this post is such a bundle of thanks, and also keening over loss in your prayer at the end, and in some of the comments. Thank you for both. Prayers for your friend. As the holidays come, the sense of loss sometimes will be overwhelming. But we have your centenary of thanks to which to return, and I can imagine you waiting for your boy at the escalator — I can just see the joy! — and to be reminded that “what we need is here.” Oh, Amen, Love you.
bless you, always bless you……and as i have just this morning read of your huge loss, the emptiness that hollows your joy right now, i too am so sorry, and i hold you in that tender place in my heart that belongs to you. xoxo
thanksgiving….Barbara, your post was the first of three i received this week….all of them a reminder that (although we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in our culture) … i need and want to say a thank You for the boundless goodness of life…
and among my litany of thanks: thank you for a blessed ray of sunshine who shines on us from the other sides of the globe. you have graced us so often, and so deeply. may yours be a beautiful season of thanks…
I came back to this time and again on Saturday, as I do to the cookie jar: a nibble at a time. Each petition a gem, together they shone. The rhythm of verse and meditation brought me balance when the day wobbled. And you so often voice the life over here, extra clementines for the returning college boy! And a Wendell Berry poem to go with it. What we need is here, but sometimes it is hard to find.
oh, dear dear notherbarb. i love your nibbling cookie jar metaphor. love picturing you with your college boy and your clementines. and your cookie nibbling. sending huge hug to you this day. and always always thank you for every time you grace us by pulling up a chair. xoxox
So I have found you through he Women of faith daily article taken from your book. I have to tell you I long for a quietness in my soul that your words bring to me. I have a hard time shutting off the noise in my brain. My life is filled with daily chores and art projects. All with self imposed deadlines that have crowded out the time I need to take to just be still.
I have 8 years of your blog posts to read and savor. So I will stop reading tonight and make them last. I will also go to the bookstore and find your book. I need to read more than what I read.
Thank you for sharing. Tonight it has helped me find a quiet place. Cari
dear cari, every day i get up and try all over again. as my dear husband says, Slowing Time is an “aspirational title.” he laughs that life with me — the queen of over exaggerated “it’s the best” or “this is just the WORST” — is, often, “life in code blue.” i used to be a nurse, and he says i’ve yet to give up the tendency to sound the alarms and live in heightened alert. so, more than most, i have to work at slowing time. pausing to write the words that find their way to the so-called table of “pull up a chair,” is part of how i hit the brakes, savor the moment. i’m so glad you found your way here. great good souls have gathered here for eight years now, coming and going as they please. we just quietly drink in the wonder of the world, stumble on the occasional wisdom, and hold each other up with tender, gentle, unshakable love. we’ve created a little corner of the world where we play according to the kindness and depth we wish the whole world would deeply hold to be essential.
[…] great day of giving thanks, and cobbled our own litanies of gratitude. we’ve counted to 100, the centenary of thanks. and dialed back to a modest couple dozen. the count, of course, is not the thing. it’s the […]