Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

day 25 of Thanksgiving month: gratitude in the wake of #Ferguson

via google

via google

Today, in the wake of Ferguson, my beginner’s heart is breaking. There seems so very little to be grateful for. I wasn’t even going to write. And then I thought — there is one sad, terrible thing for which I am grateful for. Something I shouldn’t even have to think about — the race of my children. Because as Michael Brown’s mother found out yesterday, there is in this country a different set of rules a different kind of ‘justice’ for America’s black and white sons.

My sons are white. And I guarantee you that if one of them had, as it is ALLEGED Michael Brown did (conflicting testimonies on this one, as with most of the Ferguson tragedy), steal a pack of cigars, NO ONE would shoot them multiple times and leave them in a pool of their own blood. In the street. Like roadkill.

And please don’t forget: Michael Brown wasn’t stopped for theft. He was stopped for jaywalking. And shot for being a black male, taller than his murderer. Scary, apparently, because of all the above.

So today, in the wake of a tragic decision by a kangaroo court, in a city only a few miles from the site of Dred Scott’s equally bogus legal justice, I am grateful that my boys are white. I am grateful that the men of other races I have loved over my life are not any one of them the father of my children.

But I worry about their children, and the children of my cousin’s daughter. Her son. My own brown-skinned grandson. His uncle. Dear friends and their children. Age is no protection — older black men have been murdered at the hands of the ‘law’ as well as the young. And NOT ONE of these dead men — Eric Garner, John Crawford, Ezzell Ford, so many others — was bearing arms.This is why I say: in America today, there is one kind of justice for black sons, and another for white.

My heart goes out to the mothers of black and brown boys across America. Keep your children safe. Chances are, the law will not.

day 24 of Thanksgiving month: getting ready (or not…)

via comfortablydomestic.com

via comfortablydomestic.com

I’m not at the ‘in the pie pan’ stage yet, but I did make the dough today. My family is BIG on pie, and especially at Thanksgiving. (Countdown: 3-2-1…) I think my beloved could eat an entire pie by himself, and my nephews would fight over the other one. In other words, it’s a two-pie day. And that doesn’t include all the other amazing desserts.

But of course, there’s that turkey too. This year, I surveyed my family, asking how many want turkey and how many would prefer spiral-cut ham. As I suspected, ham won. (Note: we had a LOT of left-over turkey last year!) So the turkey was down-sized, and the ham (which I don’t eat — remember the whole ‘no dead piggies’ thing?) up-sized.

And there is a loooong list in my journal of who’s making what else: mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potato biscuits, sweet potatoes in general, broccoli casserole, cranberry sauce, deviled eggs, green beans… There is a LOT more!

There are 15 of us coming together, to remember all the many things we have to be thankful for. And today’s everyday gratitude for me is that somehow, my beloved & I have become the place where we all gather. Yes, there’s a lot of getting ready. But I have time, these days. Time to remember that all the preparation, if done mindfully, is a kind of love.

the author's

the author’s

Sometimes I sound terribly hokey, I know! But it’s true: today as I cut the butter into pieces to whir w/ the flour & salt, I thought — how lucky we are to be able to do this. How cool is it that we have the resources, the time, the ability…to make a Thanksgiving for 15 people!!

And how very lucky is it that we all want to do this?

Just yesterday there was a new piece on the arrests of homeless men & women, and the good people who try to feed them. I don’t understand how feeding the homeless (especially in an ostensibly Christian nation) became a crime. As I read through my list of what we’re supposed to do — brine the turkey before roasting it, make sure I have enough whipping cream, should I do hummus for while we warm up everything? — I also thought of the more than 610,000 homeless people bedding down in the cold each night. And as a child, wife, sister, and aunt of veterans, I remember that 9% of these homeless men & women are veterans. I remember the man who froze to death in the bank parking lot only a few blocks from house, one cold Oklahoma night. And I’m deeply saddened that instead of working as the great people we are, to end homelessness, we have chosen to criminalize it, and the people who would feed the hungry.

via wikipedia

via wikipedia

Feeding the hungry is a universal tenet of all religions. Muslims, Christians, Jews. Hindus, Buddhists, Jains. Atheists too feed the hungry. There are somewhere between 1.2 and 2.5 million homeless CHILDREN annually in the US. Again, I don’t understand this. As I wonder which of my dishes are acceptable for the several gluten-free family coming Thursday, I realize how fortunate I am to have such first-world problems. But these children.. They’re first-world children. American children. Homeless. And, probably, hungry.

These next few days, as you ready yourself for the holiday, remember to be grateful for your everyday life: warm, fed, even if you’re in a pre-holiday whirl. As I am. Because I feel VERY lucky. That’s my everyday gratitude today. Getting ready for a Thanksgiving blowout, & understanding how many Americans will do without. Our, complete w/ two pies, turkey, ham, the fixings, and whatever desserts my niece Anne is bringing. So many others, empty-handed…

day 23 of Thanksgiving month: soundtracks

via pixabay

via pixabay

The other day I wrote about how much I love music, how it’s one of my everyday gratitudes. Which set me to thinking: what would my life’s soundtrack be? What would I like to exit to?

You have to realise: I picked out the music to take w/ me to the birthing centre to have my first son… :) It had to be just soooo. (In case you’re wondering? I took Ralph Vaughn Williams, among others.)

I filled my suitcase with music when my father brought me home to college. It was more important to me to get the music right for my wedding than the dress (surely an aberration for most brides?). I’ve already told my sons what I want them to play at my memorial, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere.

So the soundtrack of my life is a kind of wonderful thing to think about. And it’s a bit of a gratitude thing, as well: gratitude that my folks paid for years of piano lessons. Gratitude that my mother danced to Glen Miller, Louis Armstrong, and show tunes with me when I was a little girl. Gratitude that both of my sons have shared their musics with me for most of their lives.

What would your life’s soundtrack include? How would you orchestrate the low places? The peaks, the valleys, the dark spaces and the bright? Your losses, your gifts…? I’m thinking… Pachelbel, for sure. Bach, too. A little Vivaldi, and the classics are represented. They do for both highs & lows. The dark places? Tracy Chapman, Bruce Springsteen, classic jazz (so many old blues players, too). I want a LOT of holiday music — reminding me of the years ticking away like a too-quick clock.

Think about it. What songs do you want to hear behind the ribbon of your life?

day 22 of Thanksgiving month: the kindness of strangers

the author's

the author’s

Today’s gratitude is slightly abashed. I’m grateful for kindness — even my own, actually. And abashed that it’s noticed so…noticeably…? Because if just joking w/ the Starbuck’s barista, and teasing her about breathing, nets me a heartfelt hand-hold and a free espresso shot, there’s something wrong w/ the world.

Which I guess I knew.

So here’s the deal: her happy response to my normal goofiness made me feel wonderful. To be able to make a stranger smile… How fun is that? When all I did was make fun of the long line, offer to make horrible faces for at the barista so the others would think I was a witch, to give her time to catch her breath. It was a loooonng  line, and probably not the first of the morning. Just take a moment in the looooong line to collect herself.

She began to laugh a big laugh, then reached for my hand and asked what I wanted. She wrote something on the red holiday cup, said it would do for my name, and said the shot’s free; you made me laugh AND smile!

When did the kindness of strangers become what gets us through our long days? When did we stop looking at — really seeing — each other? How often do we lose sight of our own humanity in busy everyday?

This is my gratitude today: that I was there for someone, stranger or not, to shoulder part of the day. That I’m prone to being (irredeemably!) goofy, even with strangers. And that one person (and her deep goofiness) can make a difference, however small.

You can, too. Try it.

Previous Posts

day 25 of Thanksgiving month: gratitude in the wake of #Ferguson
Today, in the wake of Ferguson, my beginner's heart is breaking. There seems so very little to be grateful for. I wasn't even going to write. And then I thought -- there is one sad, terrible thing for which I am gra

posted 10:57:00pm Nov. 25, 2014 | read full post »

day 24 of Thanksgiving month: getting ready (or not...)
I'm not at the 'in the pie pan' stage yet, but I did make the dough today. My family is BIG on pie, and especially at Thanksgiving. (Countdown: 3-2-1...) I think my beloved could eat an entire pie b

posted 3:47:13pm Nov. 24, 2014 | read full post »

day 23 of Thanksgiving month: soundtracks
The other day I wrote about how much I love music, how it's one of my everyday gratitudes. Which set me to thinking: what would my life's soundtrack be? What would I like to exit to? You have to realise: I pick

posted 6:07:08pm Nov. 23, 2014 | read full post »

day 22 of Thanksgiving month: the kindness of strangers
Today's gratitude is slightly abashed. I'm grateful for kindness -- even my own, actually. And abashed that it's noticed so...noticeably...? Because if just joking w/ the Starbuck's barista, and teasing her about

posted 10:42:50pm Nov. 22, 2014 | read full post »

day 21 of Thanksgiving month
Today a very simple gratitude, but profound. Music. That ineffable language writers have tried to capture for centuries. Working to replicate its nuance, the way it creates dancing in the bones, melancholy in the he

posted 9:01:39pm Nov. 21, 2014 | read full post »


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