Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thankful Still

It's all too easy to forget on a day like today just how to be thankful. The turkey needs prepped and pushed into the oven. The potatoes need peeled. The yams need boiled. And where did we put the marshmallows? Did you bring pie? Was I supposed to bring pie? Turn up the television; I can't hear the parade! What time is kick-off? Who's even playing today? What time are the kids going to be here? Where's the sage? I bought sage. It's here somewhere. 

And so on and so on it goes until night finally starts to settle in and we collapse in the easy chair, exhausted, but finally thankful.

Thankful that it's finally over.

I think for some of us, we're aware of this. We recognize it every year. For some reason, it just seems we're never able to actually be thankful on the one day we're supposed to be. Maybe, by day's end, we finally find a little time for thankfulness, but by the point, it feels like we've missed the whole day anyway. It's just been too busy.


As ironic as it may sound, especially for those of us who are charged each year with putting this day together, thankfulness doesn't thrive on busyness. Thankfulness doesn't share space with frenzy. Thankfulness doesn't answer a thousand questions; it doesn't even ask them. 

Thankfulness, at its very core, is stillness. That's why it's so easy to lose.

Think about it. If you're going to be thankful for something, it can't be a fleeting moment. It has to stick around long enough for you to embrace it. It has to be here long enough for you to think about it, to consider it, to take it into your heart and make it a part of your story, a part of your reality. You have to hold onto something, even for just a moment, if you want to be thankful for it. This holding on requires stillness.

It requires that everything just stop, just for a second. It requires that there are no demands on this moment. It requires that you have the chance to just be, in one specific place in one specific time in one specific context, and that you have time to soak in that context. 

Think about all the things you've been thankful for this year, all the things you're thankful for today. Did you notice? As you brought to mind even one thing, you stopped. It's just natural. It's the way you hold the image of the sunset behind your closed eyes for just a second as the sun finally sinks beyond the horizon. It's the way you hold your child's hand just a half a second longer. It's the way you pause, ever so briefly, every time you walk by the flowers that your husband sent you. It's the breath you take when you realize, out of nowhere, that right now, just right now, all is well. Thankfulness has always been about just this moment, just this one moment, and in order to be thankful at all, you have to be fully present to it. That's why you stop. You're seizing just this one moment in time and holding onto this second just a half a tick longer.

It's also why it's easier to be thankful at the end of a day like today than it is in the middle of it. It doesn't feel like there's a lot of time to even breathe, let alone pause. 

But you have to pause. Somewhere between all the commotion, you have to find one sacred breath, one moment just to have. Just to hold onto for just a few seconds.

Don't let today slip past you. Don't wait until it's all over, until everyone's gone home, until nothing's left but a pile of dirty dishes, to realize how thankful you really are. Don't let today be one of those days when you're only thankful that it's finally over. 

Take every moment you can steal today. Take every opportunity to stop, just for a second, and let your life wash over you. Between basting the turkey for the fourteenth time and stirring the potatoes and trying to figure out when you have to start the rolls and trying to catch at least part of the parade or a few minutes of football, take a moment. Embrace it. Still your soul and let life just be. Let this moment just be. Let yourself just be. 


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