Thanksgiving grace

Thanksgiving is here, the one holiday of the year that is, by name and spirit, inspired by the grace of gratitude.

We gather, we talk, we prepare, we eat. Oh yes, we eat. It’s the beginning of butter season, and all things good.

We list the things we’re grateful for. And for most, the list is some version of a litany of the important people in life…spouse, children, family, friends; important pillars of life…health, home, job; important attitudes of life…thankfulness, forgiveness, joy.

I feel all that, and more. I am so grateful. But today, “more” is my special focus.

This year, “more” is all the uncertainty and upheaval the past few months have brought to my life.

Uncertainty doesn’t sleep well, doesn’t feel comfortable. It has become the knot in my stomach, the question behind all my plans.

“What next?”

And yet, even as I sat and gathered myself this morning, sitting hard against the wall by my bed to focus my thoughts, start my day with calm and quiet, I knew: the coming joy is rooted in this time of in between, this period of lostness.

I’m walking in the valley of indecision so I can choose, and choose wisely.

These are the days of hard questions: what do I want? What is essential?

The voice in my mind answers: my partner is essential. Family is essential. Faith is essential. The rest…the where or how or the timing of the choices…window dressing that puts the pretty bow on the real gift. The real gift is the people, priorities in order, values in place.

Knowing who I am, whose I am, who I am with, and who I love are the bedrock essentials. Nothing else matters…not where I live, or how I earn income, how big my house is, how often I travel. Because I know the answers to the essentials, I can take a breath, step back, let the details sort themselves in good time.

It’s easy to get that confused…to take the people and relationships for granted and treat the externals like they’re most important. I can admit I’ve done that, acted like all the “big” decisions were the drivers of life. They’re not…they’re context, but they’re not the heart of the story.

This year I’m not hosting the holiday feast..the trappings of my physical life are in a Public Storage unit in Washington. I don’t have all the externals together…no decorating for Christmas this weekend, or gathering family for the perfect Christmas card pose.

Family is scattered, and I don’t have the pretty bow to wrap us all together.

But I know the answers to the questions of heart, the essential ones that frame the rest.

And I am so grateful. I have my Thanksgiving list. And when we go around the table to say what we’re thankful for, I can acknowledge: the uncertainty, the question of “what next?” points me to the deepest joys. The very not knowing becomes a gift to show me: security is in the intangibles of my life, in the people and the love that isn’t tied to an address, or a piece of furniture, or an orderly path.

So yes, today I’m celebrating that I have no permanent home at the moment, just a permanent mailbox address. And I have no vision for where I’ll be next year, just a vision of who I’ll be with. I have no forecast of my annual income for 2015, but I expect to cover all the usual needs of life.

I’m in between, and I’m grateful. I may look lost, but I’m not.

I’m full of expectation, full of anticipation. What turn will my story take now? And how will my choices and my life lessons be a light to shine for others?

Happy Thanksgiving! May you all know “who” is on your list when you go around your table, or you recite to yourself the joys of your life. When you know who is important to you, the rest is just glitter.


2 thoughts on “Thanksgiving grace

  1. Sheila, your words are marinaded in faith and courage. Would you believe I could have written this post about 10 years ago? I was doing contract work all over my Province so would house sit when I was home. (Had a realtor who loved having me in client’s homes.) For years, it was uncanny how timing worked out perfectly – I’d finish my contract and a house would be waiting for me when I got home. Some of these homes were palatial!

    Then…well, let’s just say I began having to consider that the back of my SUV looked good – seriously, I was beginning to think I’d have to rent a motel room. YUK.

    My belongings had been in storage for years. Contracts were becoming more sporadic. Rental situations were not good on my island. I didn’t want to live with a roommate – I needed solitude and privacy to regroup.

    I faced the fact I had to buy a home of my own even though I really dreaded the time and expense of taking care of it. I bought a little bungalow anyway and have found it to be a blessing. I discovered the Internet is full of helpful information – as are the men who are good handymen. And women, I discovered!

    So whatever your plans, I pass on the words of a tiny, wise woman who listened to my self-doubt while I lived without my own place. “Am I nuts?” I asked her.

    “Amy, you just have to believe that, no matter our circumstances, home is under our hats.”

    So, one step at a time, pray for exactly what you hardly dare and know you’ll be telling your story to someone one day. I pray my story offers some comfort and trust.


    • Thank you Amy! Yes, that’s what I want to do…dream big and be brave! It’s challenging to do when wrong moves are costly, and sometimes you ask yourself…am I just living in fantasy land?! But I also have faith. I’ve seen things work out that I thought were impossible. Thanks for the encouragement! Love the quote about home being under our hats:) Good attitude and way to think about all these issues! ~ Sheila

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