Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It was also my mother’s favorite. She loved everything about it. She was an only child, so she was close to her cousins. Consequently, she kept a much closer relationship through the years with them than most people do in modern times, which led her to invite them all to our house for Thanksgiving on several occasions. When this happened, we would have 40+ people at our house for the feast. Those were some wonderful memories.
Now that my mom is gone, I think about those wonderful, chaotic, joyous, delicious, football watching, crowded house celebrations that she reveled in all those years ago. Thinking about that makes me mindful of how fragile and fleeting life is. Time flows by so swiftly and carries away all that we love until we, too, are carried away from this world.
I have a very personal understanding of what it means to leave this life. I know from experience what awaits us, and it is glorious beyond description. But I also know how blessed we are to be in this life for the blink in time that is allotted us. I am truly blessed in that I got to intermingle my spirit with His, my thoughts with His, and glimpse His infinite love in a way that few living have been allowed. But that blessing comes with a bit of a burden as well, because infinity, once glimpsed, illuminates the finite in stark contrast. It brings into sharp focus the fact that death is not something you do one time at the end of your life. No, death is a process that begins the moment we come into existence and continues throughout our time here until the finite falters and the infinite is freed from the prison we call a body.
And that is something to be very grateful for indeed. I can think of few greater curses than to be stuck in this dark realm for eternity.
That might surprise you, but it shouldn’t. This is not our home. It is simply the ship of our passage. That’s not to say it isn’t important. It is. Vitally important, for this is the nursery in which we are grown to maturity, the testing ground of our souls. This is the place that teaches us we are not the center and meaning of all: we are eternal, but not THE Eternal. This is a realm of great beauty, but also great pain. This is a place where we attempt to communicate, but are so limited by our inability to intermingle our minds directly, as we were originally designed to do, that real communication is impossible, causing us to muddle along with awkward, ambiguous language. This is a realm where fear and misunderstanding rule, and because they do, it is a realm where true love can be learned. You see, the closest thing we ever come to communication is found in love, because loving requires us to reach beyond our own inner shell. Love requires sacrifice, because two will not always want the same thing, so someone will have to yield or lose the relationship. Hopefully, both are willing, because only then do both learn to love. But in this realm, even at our best in our most loving relationship, we still only “look through a glass dimly”. But that’s a blessing, too. It provides us the blessing of anticipation.
This really is a wonderful life. Thanksgiving really is a wonderful holiday. Learning to be grateful for everything, the good, the bad, the ugly, is a profound gift. It’s a gift that can be really hard to see when you are in the middle of the bad and ugly. It can seem impossible when feeling alone and unloved. But Love will win. Death will bless us all by revealing how very much we have always been loved, by amazing us with how surrounded we have always been with a cloud of loved ones, by astounding us with how significant a thing is life, our life, every life.
My return from the arms of the Eternal back into this mortal coil was not by accident. It was very intentional and was even by my own choice. I am SO glad I chose to come back, and I am SO ready to go back home. The hardest part of being here is knowing – knowing from the depths of my soul – that no matter how hard I try to assure you that home awaits, that God IS, that Love wins, and that each and every one of us is beautiful beyond comprehension – no matter how I write, say, sing, paint, or pantomime these things, the best I can do is to get you to wonder, just a bit, if maybe, by some chance, it might be possible that I am not crazy and these things are REALLY true, It really is like trying to describe the concept of color to someone born blind.
The best I can do is to do my best.
I am grateful for my mom and all the wonderful memories she left me. I am grateful for all those family members she invited to our feast, and for all the ones that now surround me. I am grateful for friends and those that challenge me. I am grateful for the air I breath and the Earth beneath my feet. I am grateful for the awareness that I have much to be grateful for. I’m grateful for the chance to live this adventure as I move ever onward toward home. I am grateful for turkey, sweet potato casserole, and pie. I’m even grateful for football, although the Texans are REALLY challenging me on that one. But most of all, I am grateful for the gift of His Love.
Shalom, my friends.