Tuesday, December 06, 2016
cheerful, despite all
Wow, a lot has happened in a month. And you know what, I've decided to be of good cheer. When the apocalypse arrives, and world war three starts, and the oceans rise high enough to engulf us all, and whatever daily disaster sucks all the air out of the room yet again - whenever I turn on my computer and gaze at the news with fascinated horror - when all that happens, and in spite of all of that, I will continue to be of good cheer. Because I am actively counting my blessings, not least of which are that yesterday I was able to spend six hours painting in my studio, for the first time in several weeks, then after a lovely supper with my husband Ryan and some time in front of the woodstove with Hodge the cat, I spent two hours making significant headway in Bruce Springsteen's autobiography Born to Run (Simon & Schuster 2016). Any day I have painted and read something this fantastic is, in my book, a freaking awesome day. Sometimes I think, selfishly, If world war three is starting, will I have time to make just a few more paintings and read another book or two...? Before I have to throw myself on the barricades...? I write letters to elected officials, I donate money to needful causes, and I will do whatever I need to do, whenever I need to do it, but OH how I love a quiet peaceful day with art and books. What can I say. I am essentially a dormouse. Back to the present moment, though, and another blessing - yesterday Ryan picked up the handmade quilt he just won at the local historical society raffle. We bought raffle tickets weeks ago at the town office, right after casting our votes on election day. It's a beautiful quilt, with deep red and cream floral and figurative patches, backed with a subtle cream and white floral print, quilted all over with stars, and it's hanging over the rocking chair in our dining room as I write this. It's so American! Like a flag, multicolored and festive and antique, yet also brand new. It even feels redemptive. I look over at it and am so grateful for the many gifts of this life. Sometimes you know they are coming, sometimes you can earn them or get them for yourself, and sometimes they fall out of the sky unexpectedly, like grace notes from a favorite carol. Thank you, historical society!
And speaking of thanks, I wanted to write here, as I usually do, for Thanksgiving. But at that time I was in a place beyond regular words - a lot was happening and it was happening quickly and intensively. I had few words to spare. In fact I think I was already using all I had. Because I spent the week of Thanksgiving with my family, gathered together in a hospital in southern Maine. We had one of the most unexpected and truly thankful Thanksgivings I've ever experienced - by Thanksgiving Day itself, you see, we knew that our beloved family member was going to not only survive his heart attack but be able to recover almost completely, after an initial diagnosis of heart failure (and even after thinking the worst, for a difficult day or two). Four of us had Thanksgiving dinner in the hospital cafeteria, and the cafeteria food was... cafeteria food, but it was all there and so were we - turkey, stuffing, pie, the works - and I ate it and gave thanks from the bottom of my heart. And now, back home, picking up the strands of daily life once again, accompanied by our first real snow of the year fresh on the ground from last night, I just put two balsam wreaths up. I love to lean right into them and breathe in - that cold, spicy, wintery scent is all the Christmases I've ever known and all the ones still to come. Yes, counting my blessings. Because I'm feeling, even in this dark time, as if the light is very close. I know it is. I welcome it and I plan on adding to it, in any way I am able, even in those ways I can't foresee. That is why I am of good cheer, and will remain so.