Friday, November 26, 2010


Giving thanks and practicing active gratitude

Another Thanksgiving has come and gone but gratitude lingers alongside the delicious leftovers. Ryan and I hosted a big family meal at our house for the first time in recorded history, and I am relieved to say that all went off without a hitch. Nothing burned, everyone ate well, plates were full of old favorites as well as the results of some recipes I'd bravely tried for the very first time. Between turkey and pie we took turns talking about what we were thankful for in our lives, from soup to nuts and small to large. Life transitions navigated, disasters averted, successes applauded.

We set the table with a hodgepodge of family heirlooms and antiques shop finds. The vintage set of china I put on layaway during a low point in life, a particularly dreary time when I yearned for something fine. My grandmother's spoons, my great-grandmother's battered table knives, my other grandmother's footed silver dish. The table linens my sister gave us for a wedding present. The big table from the kitchen in my childhood home. I walked around outside in the morning and gathered up a bouquet of gratitude - a few late wild rose hips, some dry everlasting, the still-green sage from the herb bed - for a prickly fall centerpiece for the table.

In the late afternoon as everyone drove off into the dusk, I picked over the turkey in the kitchen and thought a lot about gratitude. I would say at this point in life that my spiritual/religious practice is what I have come to regard as active gratitude. Being aware of and grateful for what is. Being actively thankful. This can be practiced anywhere, at any time, is remarkably calming in the face of what comes, and helps me with those thorny issues of forgiveness, letting go, and acceptance, which seem to show up like obnoxious drunk uncles (not that I have any of those...) during the holidays. Thanksgiving just feels like a natural time to speak your gratitude aloud, with as many of the people you are grateful for as will fit around your table. It was good to do just that yesterday, and I hope the same for you.

Sarah, you always state things remarkably well, but this is an exceptionally beautiful piece! You are as much an artist with your words as you are with your paints. The rhythm, the symmetry, the imagery, the word choice . . . all perfect. You are a highly talented wordsmith. This piece deserves publication above and beyond this blog! Jan
Dear Jan - your words arrived at such an opportune moment, as I sit here this afternoon struggling to finish writing an artist statment, feeling like I can't put two coherent sentences together! I mean really, this short piece is just laying there like a dead dog! And it's supposed to be about this thing, painting, which is of central importance to me! Should be easy, right?


Anyway. Tantrum over. I'll find a way. Thank you for the kind words, much needed!
Giving thanks
for such simple
but essential words
as yours
Blessings to you, Antony - thank you!
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