Historically, I don't hold particularly fond memories of Thanksgiving. As a child and adolescent it felt generally annoying with long car rides and intermingling of Christmas present giving. As an adult, the time surrounding the holiday of stuffing and giving of thanks became a chasm; a ravine into which I stumbled every year. Over the last half a decade or so, it represented the mark in a year that life slipped from control and beauty into chaos and darkness...seemingly against all protection and care. In a lot of ways, I've become superstitious of the time. The approaching weeks hold no small amount of apprehension and paranoia that some aspect of life will crumble in one way or another.
Dear friends of mine encourage new patterns and memories to be made, in effort to circumvent the ravine and chasm of Thanksgiving. Agreed! So how to make changes and find new patterns? Although I find comfort and therapy in the cooking and baking that surrounds the holiday, I don't love feeling stuffed by food.. and besides, the delicious cranberry sauce hurts my stomach! Introducing wine to the family dinner brought a fun little change, but the soft warmness of wine leaves too soon. Of course, time with family and friends is delightful, though it can be accompanied by conflict and remind of once held dear, but now lost. And besides, the best laid plans and preparation seem to be irrelevant. How does one cross to the other side of the chasm untainted and unmarked?
A couple mornings ago, laying in bed watching the room lighten with the coming dawn... I was bemoaning quietly yet another year where Thanksgiving seemed to usher in events and situations I certainly wasn't thankful about! Despite the frustration and sadness, as well as discouragement, that accompanied... I realized suddenly that my stomach and chest did not hurt. I didn't feel like an elephant was crushing into my lungs and ribs. I didn't feel like some small minions (probably the purple ones from Despicable Me 2) were attempting to shovel out my stomach with spoons. Amazingly, I didn't physically hurt! The realization brought tears of thanks...
Leading up to this fall and Thanksgiving, I prayed (more like begged on bended knee) that I would be shown mercy and protection; that no matter what I would be spared the physical aching pain in stomach and chest that generally accompanies the end of November. It didn't seem like I could bear such feelings again. And to be shown such grace astonished me... in a way I keep waiting for the pain to come, not entirely trusting the relief but glad while it remains.
Around the same time, this phrase came to mind and has stuck with me.... "If two people love each other, but they just can't seem to get it together... when do you get to that point where enough is enough?" Although this statement and question are obviously speaking about a romantic or intimate relationship between people, it feels relevant to my struggle over the years with Thanksgiving. If I, or we, choose to live in the world and be guided by the greatest commandment of love, is there ever a time that we can get to the point where enough is enough?
Sure, everyone has a breaking point and "deal breakers" exist. But for the first time, I find myself believing that the answer to that question is not only true, but possible. When love is involved, when do you get to that point where enough is enough? Never.
I've no idea what lesson there is to learn from repeated pain and hurt and loss at a time where the rest of the world seems to be thankful and abundantly joyous. (Or any repeated pain and seeming lack of relief to a pain felt again and again). I could choose to lay on my back in the middle of the sidewalk, raise my legs to the air, tuck my hands under my head, and scream incessantly up into the heavens! In Philadelphia, this may result in an involuntary admission to a psychiatric unit.... and though it would provide an interesting experience, it certainly wouldn't fill the chasm. And moreover, it would not bring answer or relief..
So I'm left wondering, If there is no way to fill the ravine... no way to build a bridge... no ability to fly or teleport across... could there at least be strength to journey through it, time and time again? And if ruled by love; if sustained by the Greatest Lover of all, would I not willingly and courageously approach the chasm over and over? ...only time can tell, but I certainly hope the answer is yes.
A great man reminded me once that courage and bravery is facing a situation that is feared and hated, but choosing to walk through it never the less. Despite the grace of no physical pain... despite the growth in spiritual journey over the year... despite the willingness to journey and the realization of a sustainer... stepping into the time fault line, knowing that it may exist for years, yet causes me pause. May I always choose to step, trusting and giving the time to the Great Sustainer. .