Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

day 20 of a month of Thanksgiving (war & peace…) ~

As pictures of wounded children — and tiny body bags — cast long shadows across international media these past few days, I am so very grateful to live in a country free from war within our borders. I am grateful my two wonderful sons don’t have to choose between fighting and leaving, as many in my generation did. I am grateful to the many who have chosen to fight so that my sons have this option today.

My family is proud of our many veterans, several of them (my sister, my father, others in the extended family) lifers. So perhaps this is a double thank-you, today: gratitude that peace is possible, and humility at the price it has cost too many.

But today, after a day of walking across the pedestrian bridge over the river, watching a flock of more than 100 pelicans basking in the bright Oklahoma light, I am grateful that there is peace. I am grateful to walk down a street free from fear of bombs. I am grateful no one I love is dodging rockets shot from school yards. And I am well aware that violence begets violence, as so many faiths remind us. I can’t imagine living, as I do, almost 2,000 miles from sons, if they were at war. I breathe for every parent with children — old or young — at risk through war…

So today I give thanks for peace, and the centuries of American soldier who have fought to keep it for us. It is a gift too many of us take for granted.

 

 

day 19 of a month of Thanksgiving: old friends ~

Today I’m grateful for old friends. Perhaps because I moved so much as a child  and a young adult, I have very few friends from my adolescence. And none, really, from my childhood. No one who knew me in elementary or middle school, for instance. Only a few who knew me in my 20s. So I’m very grateful for my friends, and rarely take any of you for granted.

I always worry that I’m not a good friend. That I talk too much, or don’t remember birthdays, or go off on politics & poetry too often. Except w/ my friend Gary, the closest I have to a brother.

He was my first friend at university when I returned for summer classes. He introduced me to my husband. I fixed him up w/ each of my sisters in turn, hoping one would ‘take.’ We even tried to get our parents together, following messy divorces!

So today, when this old friend — the closest I have to a brother — came to see us with his wonderful wife, and their three beautiful, smart, funny daughters in tow, I was in heaven. For the entire  afternoon, the deck was filled with laughing girls and old friends.  With the seven of us. And more tomorrow! Who wouldn’t be grateful?

But I’m also grateful that this old friend — actually these two old friends, as Gary’s wife Alayna is very dear to me, too — still loves so many of the things we loved in our younger time together. Our politics, our spiritual beliefs, even our child-rearing strategies harmonise beautifully. All the more to be valued as we’ve not lived in the same city for decades…

Something there is about people who have known you for decades… Something very precious. And when you know you’d like them if you met them today, just as you did then? That’s all the more to be thankful for…

 

day 18 of a month of Thanksgiving: bounty (& first-world problems…) ~

  I have too much stuff. I have too many books, too many teapots, and waaay too many tchotchkes. It is, most definitely, a first-world problem.

But I’m grateful for my first-world problems, like  clearing out my extra books. I remember helping a colleague — a South African teacher — pack books to take back to Botswana. Her students had none. NOT  ONE. I have hundreds…

Today I bought the dogs new collars. I had a coupon, which knocked $5 off the total. And I thought at the time: my dogs’ collars cost more than many people make in a day… Think about that.

As I clean and ready for the upcoming holiday feasting, I make space in the refrigerator. For bounty. Leftovers from the annual American eat-in. There will be at least 12 of us, possibly more. There will be turkey, and potatoes ((both white & sweet), and pie and cake and salads and relishes and hummus and turkey and more. And that’s just Thursday

Tomorrow — Monday — an old & dear couple of friends and their beautiful 3 daughters are coming to visit. I still have to make gingerbread, after a day spent cleaning a too-large house. And  decide between teapots (there are several…), and decide among teas… We have to finalise plans: should we walk the River Parks Pedestrian Bridge? Or go to the Rose Garden? Such happy ‘problems’ that I probably shouldn’t even share them!

So today? I’m grateful and give thanks for my first-world problems. Too many things I love, too little room to keep them. A garden refusing to go to sleep, even though it’s mid-November (roses & gold mums & scarlet pineapple sage, still!). A week ahead full to bursting w/ wonderful friends & family & food. And me in the middle of it all, well aware of my own good fortune…

 

day 17 of a month of Thanksgiving: libraries ~

I’m exceedingly thankful for libraries. AND for librarians, who rank up there w/ superheroes (& heroines) to me. From my first foray into the bookmobile (travelling books?? what magic!), to the Việtnamese American Association Library around the street from us in Saigon, to the dusty musty stacks in grad school, I have been faithful to libraries.

I have checked out the maximum number of books allowed and begged for more. I have cruised and pilfered the shelves reserved for ‘the big kids.’ In 4th grade, I checked outGone With the Wind. And even though the whole war to defend slavery seemed pretty dumb to me (still does, just FYI), I loved the history and the dresses… Scarlett seemed a bit whiney, even to a 4th grader, but oh well.

In graduate school, research librarians taught me how to research. Taught me how to cruise shelves — a skill dying w/ digitisation. And as an undergraduate, I even worked in a library. In the reserve room, in the stacks reshelving, for Mr. Miracle at the front desk. It was heaven: books everywhere and time to touch and read them.

So today I sing the praises of libraries and the librarians who are the gentlest of tyrants. If you haven’t been in years, get thee to a bibliotèque. They have computers now (for those who insist on Google), and movies, and music, and old TV shows on  DVD, and the old reliable: books. The first portable entertainment device ~

 

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