Spread across my friend’s guest bed, I smelled pleasant aromas drifting down the stairs to my secluded space. My friend’s Mexican husband had skillfully crafted a Thanksgiving meal like none other. Yesterday I had nosed around the kitchen as he created a gluten-free celebration adapted just for me, for my health’s sake. I was intrigued by the light, fresh smell of masa flour in his homemade tortillas, and the chili…mmmm! Fresh, too, with a brightness and solid savor I have often attempted to recreate.
Friends… I pulled out my journal and began my first annual thankful list. Six hours away from my college dorm and many miles from my family, I entered a place I could feel at home. My friend from Pathfinder days had moved across the country to be a successful teacher and was enjoying early family life. They had taken in a 21-year-old girl who needed less stress, more play and lots of family love.
Like a seasoned student, I numbered my page. …19. 20. 21. One each for my age. That sounds like a plan. Though my heart was filled up to the brim, my eyes wanted to droop. Exams, travel, and festivities were catching up with me. Would I make it that far? Gel pens on dark paper shone forth my delight in God’s special care over me. Writing these down, specifically, helped me capture thankfulness that I knew was floating up there in my brain. When number twenty-one was filled, there was still more “thankfuls” in my heart. Just for fun, I extended my list by four (bonus credit? LOL!).
Over a decade has passed. My list has lengthened a lot – because I’m older! Am I more thankful? Maybe I will dig out those old journals and find my reasons for each year’s joy. I want to see how my path has been guided to include pain and loss amidst feasting and pleasure.
True joy is like a bountiful harvest where seeds of all kinds are reaped.
My list used to be only the best things I liked for the year, the ones that made me feel happy when remembering them. You wouldn’t harvest your garden like that, would you? I’ll take the long green string beans, extra large zucchini, crispy cukes, wonderful watermelon and tiny green grapes, thank you! You can leave those radishes, peppers, tomatoes and beets, please.
How limited our world becomes when all of life is not embraced. It is in holding Jesus’ nail-scarred hands that I have the courage to write down even painful disappointments. My heart lifts. I perceive a freshness, and a bold savor from what He is stirring together – just for me.
That Thanksgiving past I was disappointed with my body. I was especially sad that most things on my childhood Thanksgiving plate were no longer OK for me. My friends transformed my negative perspective into tangible tastes of love, contributing to a most cherished Thanksgiving vacation.
This year, my thankful list will light up with true joy, as I thank God for my life as it is. Eventually, it will all sort out. His 2nd Coming constantly fills me with hope to make it all bearable. But till then, I will approach thirty-five lines with reverent care, trusting the skillful hand of my Creator God.