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When life seems to be offering all that I desire, hours spent pushing leaves into the woods do not leave my body aching. I crouch over spent clusters of plants, tenderly cutting back the very stems that offered their blooms for my delight. As the sun sets in the late afternoon sky, I sit back, satiated by work completed, making mental notes of that which I will divide in the spring, eager and hopeful for the lavish array of color and scents I am confident will come. Praise comes easy and for that which I give thanks, clear.
There are some years the simple act of thinking about what needs to be completed to prepare for winter is all consuming; praise and thanks are a struggle. Stiff back and sore muscles; work that needs to be done seems to stretch endless on my list. With a watchful eye on the treetops, I wonder when will the last of the leaves surrender itself to the wind so I can be done. Even with that, when the first blast of winter’s breath releases the last remnants of fall, I recoil at its sting.
I’ve been watching the treetops lately and have felt a nudge asking me the very same question I’ve asked of the leaves. Oh, how long you of little faith, will it take you simply to let go? Why do I insist on pushing back on that which I know is for my good? How many times will I forget that unless forged, gold is simply a cluster of metal; and diamonds not pressed, well, they are simply coal?
In the coming days I will bow my head for the bounty set before me. Fruit harvested and crops unearthed; earth’s sacrifice to become the feast set before me. I will give thanks for the gifts that I have been granted and bow low for the baby that I buried, and the now boy-man who will be sitting with me. It is what I do, it is what we are all called to do in this season of thanks. It’s what we have done for centuries.
Perhaps this is the way to surrender: a continued litany of thanksgiving because it is simply what we are called to do. That when the feast is set abundant, I give thanks. That when my body aches and my heart yearns, instead of watching treetops, I give thanks. And in this, perhaps, in this continued thanks for sacrifice and for abundance, the feast of thanksgiving is not reserved for a single day on my calendar but for my eternity.
This is part of the series called “The Human Being Fully Alive” found here.