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Thanks-giving

 Tree

On the subject of thanks-giving, I remember a poem by e. e. cummings this way:

Thank you god for this amazing day,

for the leaping greenly spirits of trees…

In my twenties, I discovered e. e. cummings, his flashes of wit and image and fragmented verses that somehow reassembled themselves in my mind as I read them as wholly delightful and encouraging–enlivening. I didn’t know then that I was struggling with what would be called depression later, or a version of it, the result of growing up with ever increasing verbal and physical attacks by my grandmother. Later I would find out that she was suffering from depression, and that her striking out at me was a result of a disease that was undiagnosed and untreated. This same grandmother had books stacked up beside her bed, read everything from novels to serious tomes of history, and who encouraged my creativity in music, art, and taught me to think beyond the rigid structures set up in school. She had traveled on ships to Europe between the wars, and saw enough of the world that she understood the Midwest where we came from was not the be-all and end-all of life. That there were castles to visit, art to view in museums in London, landscapes that were amazing and mystical.

But when she was shouting or ranting, I learned to turn toward beauty for comfort, I learned to be thankful for what I had, which was many good things: friends, nice clothes, the ability to play the cello and piano and transcend the painful “regular” world. Later, when I discovered e. e. cummings and other writers on my own, when I discovered the transcendent power of art, especially the art of Van Gogh, the thanks-giving became a day to day antidote to the darker issues yet unresolved. Later in my life I brought in therapy, journaling, memoir writing, and teaching–and these would become my guides for the gritty internal work of healing.

Thanks-giving is something we need to offer ourselves every day, and offer others as well. The exchange “thank you” can be immensely powerful, a giving circle that returns and creates ever-evolving circles beyond ourselves. Therein lies grace, the peace making power of connection, compassion, and communication.

I wish you a beautiful Thanks-giving, with all the trimmings on this amazing day!

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