In lieu of trying to belong to any number of societies: Chesterton, Sherlock Holmes, the Inklings, and so on: I propose and establish one of my own. Don your intelligence cap at the door; dust off your logic and imagination; did you bring your inspiration and encouragement? We are shapers, my friends; lit lamps; light-bringers. Bring quotes*; poetry should be uplifting and thoughtful, or witty and clever, (or both). Humor is encouraged; laughter is invited back. Pull up a chair. Anyone for tea?
* C.S. LEWIS, J.R.R. TOLKIEN, SHERLOCK HOLMES, G.K. CHESTERTON, N.D. WILSON, AND P.G. WODEHOUSE, ARE ENCOURAGED
I ate stuffing for breakfast. Yes! And it isn't even Thanksgiving yet.
Somehow though, with the driving wind and freezing rain and snow, along with a certain mood of heart and mind... I'm not preoccupied this year with waiting for the Proper Season.
Over the years I've done different things--decorated for Christmas in early November, or waited religiously until after Thanksgiving for even one lick of holiday music.
At this point though, I'm not concerned. I did wait until I saw the first snow to turn on the Christmas music with my own hand... but I enjoyed other's music happily before that. And when the snow did come--in multiple inches and flying white, a few weeks ago--I promptly tuned Charlie Brown Christmas, and wrote home for my parka.
As far as Thanksgiving goes, I've been part of a Friends-giving or two so far (hence the leftover stuffing) and next week will celebrate on the actual day. The opportunities for gratitude are so many that it would take more than 365 Thanksgiving days to declare them all. And yet I don't declare them nearly often enough. They get lost in the shuffle of other thoughts in my head and I don't go to the trouble to pick out individual ones and purposefully Give Thanks.
When asked this year, one of the things that stood out to me from this last year was the opportunity to travel so much--to make new friendships and have meaningful conversations. Also to meet people who are markedly different from me, and to learn things from them and about people in general. The opportunity for new experiences, perspectives and places. And for all the things that travel brings:
One of those is gratitude itself. I travel to put my own problems into perspective; to remember that my basic needs are luxuries elsewhere; to learn gratitude for what I have and find out what my needs truly are. It is true that my travels so far have not been to third-world countries where you would expect to feel the need of others over your own most markedly... but I find the broadened view of travel does that to me anyway. I discover what I can live without... I remember the hugeness of the world--the tiny fraction that I have seen so far--and am moved to help others, to pray for people I have never seen, and to give away because I can.
One of the dangers I feel in staying in small, familiar places is our propensity to forget about all that is different and far off. We live in a massive, diverse world. Hundreds of countries; thousands of cultures, billions of people.
"D'you know, in 900 years of time and space, I've never met anyone who wasn't important," -11
That's why I read, really. To know all about the different people and thoughts and ideas. But geography itself is staggering when we really stop and think about it. So, as much as I can I try to sprinkle my literary broadenings with actually Seeing the World. Call it curiosity, call it the desire for learning, for knowledge, for beauty. It is all of those and much more.
And I am also immensely grateful for the few weeks I was able to spend with my Aunt Emma; precious, numbered days. And as always, to spend time with cousins, getting to know them better. I hope and plan to work toward more cousin-time in the coming year.
At the same time as I've been moving about, spending time with cousins, and making new friends, I've spent less time at home and with my brothers, sister, Mother, Dad... This only makes me more grateful for my family, and in a way, I love to miss them. I'm greatly looking forward to being back in their lives, come Advent season. Their immediate lives that is, and they in mine. Even from afar, they are my best friends and encouragement, cheering me on in life and decisions and travel... I am immeasurably thankful for you guys.
And for books, pens, and music (Christmas music included), and all my needs met (excellent food, solid roofs, parkas, conversation, church).
And most for Christ Jesus himself.
Light of the world. Bread of Life. God with Us.
The gift of His Own Self that I can gladly claim.
"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18