Yesterday, my son reminded me that I had not written a blog in awhile. I justified it in my mind by saying, “School does that to a teacher…pray for my students, make lesson plans, implement plans, correct plans, grade papers, analyze outcomes, research new lessons and pray for sleep, patience and wisdom…” I feel justified, but sad because I can’t do it all. However, swirling around me, remains the glow of thankfulness because of where I stand today. As my son smiled at me, the full meaning of the day filled me – a simple alliteration of powerful words: Faith, family, friends.
Leaves cover our driveway and gardens…still. It would take an army of rakes, sans ornery winds, to keep up with the thousands – dare I say – millions that litter our 35 acres. The golden hues, bright magentas, rich oranges have faded now into the solidarity of neutral browns and mock my efforts to corral them. But as I rake the few stragglers my husband missed on the first round of leaf collection, I manage to remind myself to be thankful. Sore muscles will undoubtedly call for a couple of minutes in the whirlpool tub…such a sacrifice…but well worth it if I can crawl into bed without medication. “I walk in the garden alone…” becomes “I work in the garden alone…” Mom’s low alto harmony blends with my daddy’s deeper voice as my mind’s data widgets kick in helping me sing my favorite hymn. Before I know it, the small memorial garden I built for them and my mother-in-law is clear, and I’m ready for a break. The fullness of my faith matches the bright sun that warms me. and I am thankful.
I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve questioned, argued, yelled, ignored, adored, banged my head, but I have never been tempted to walk away from the faith of my fathers. Mom loved to tell the story of trying to buy me this little cute lamb for my first Easter, and all I wanted was to play with a plastic crucifix (which by the way, along with the lamb, I still have). Faith has been my touch stone; it stabilized my chaotic choices and provided some peace when the consequences of choice confronted me. Faith has a way of transcending the physical world. It is the chocolate my soul craves as I read my Bible or cry in the darkness of midnight’s trevail.
“Bless this food to our bodies…” I looked up after blessing the food and saw the 60 years of Thanksgiving blessings stretched out in the sun’s rays that shone through our kitchen windows. Prayers of my father, mother, father-in-law echoed softly in my heart. Being a wife isn’t always easy. Compromise, acceptance and commitment are harder than the fairy tales I grew up reading and loving. Hurt holds hands with hope. Choices chase complacency. Yet, this is my journey, and my feet steadily walk the road, waiting for the next curve or bump. I chose to become a help mate, God blessed it , and I continue to learn more about myself everyday because I left my birth family and became part of a new family.
Yesterday, I watched my son stand by our great room window and remembered all the times I had watched him, his older brother and his sisters, look out that very same window…camping with cousins up in the loft, watching white fluff giving us our first snow day to play, laughing at the dogs running through the yard, ooooing over the big buck picking his way through the woods, playing games in a hospital bed, waiting for daddy to make it home from his late night at the car dealership, saying prayers before falling asleep wrapped in their special blankets. I wonder if I shared enough of my faith to help them to make it through the trials that lie ahead.
As a teacher, I had all this book learning on child development, but none of the wisdom of a parent. At my first inner city school, a wonderful mentor teacher, who was also a mom, helped me learn the difference between knowledge and wisdom. One tidbit from her bank of sayings still sticks in my mind, “Children of your own and the children of your classroom will teach you more than you ever learned in that college, chile.” Her smile and silver hair still light up my memory banks as I realize how correct she was. Being a wife, a parent, a part of a family extended me further than I ever thought I could go just on my own. Funny. I have one video of my children on dvd, but I can still hear their young voices any time I want, and I remember what they taught me. I am thankful for family.
Today, I went into our small town to do my black Friday shopping. I’m on that bandwagon for shopping locally, but I only made it to three stores because I kept running into my former teachers, high school buddies, friends and acquaintances. Didn’t do much shopping, probably wasn’t very profitable for the shop owners (who are also friends), laughed a lot, listened even more, and took a lot of time, yet…I loved it…I was thankful for it. It reminded me why I loved growing up in a small town where “…where everybody knows your name…” Rare November days, like yesterday and today, shared with friends and family are the warm wraps that walk us through the wonders of winter after the bounty of the harvest.
The more I think about the things I am thankful for, the more things I could continue to add: food, failures, future, fun…but encompassing those small details are the bigger gifts of the harvest: friends, family and most of all, faith in My Father and His Son. Where would I be without them?