Monday, November 18, 2013

A Pilgrimage Of Thanksgiving

I imagine, the trees had mostly shed their leaves, except for the few resilient ones that clung for dear life, as November winds cut deep from the northeast. And the table would have been set as it had been, every year before this, with the largest turkey to be found. Grandpa slipped juicy pieces into his mouth as he separated the white meat from the dark. All the sisters contributed side dishes. There would be a rainbow of the latest and greatest jello salads, with diced up fruit, some dotted with marshmallows. Three bean and green bean casseroles, yams steaming and a crystal dish of tart cranberry sauce, plus cans of black olives would be part of their celebration. Pottery bowls piled high with mashed potatoes, dripping with melting butter, complete with lumps, that every cook there would defend, saying, “It only proves the potatoes are real.”

My grandma was most known for baking pies with golden tips of meringue piled high. And on this day of Thanksgiving, there would surely be butterscotch, lemon, chocolate, pumpkin and pecan enough for all, plus leftovers for Sunday.

But on this particular day of feasting, my mom couldn't hear the laughter or chatter of those voices she adored, because she was laboring to give birth to her second child.

I came squalling into this world on that day of Thanksgiving, making my mom miss one of her favorite things: gathering with her family. In the wonder of it all, my beautiful mom with swept-back raven hair and fair skin, was birthing her own legacy that day. 

My earliest memories, were of gatherings at my grandparents’ home, and to this day is a gift I cling to. My mom was one of seven sisters plus one brother. Between them all, we were thirty-six cousins. While not all the cousins were able to be there every year, many were.  Treasured times in that small house bursting at the beams, with scampering children and aunts and uncles chattering. Many of the cousins would crowd in layers, on the stairs, eating black olives off our fingers and giggling at how amusing we were. 

Those were the easy days.

And life is an arduous journey.

As I traversed the hills and valleys of the everyday, buying into the press of what you should look like, comparison, trying to be better, beating myself up because I wasn't more of something and everything, I traveled away from who I really was. 

There is what I did to myself, what others inflicted on me and what life dealt me.

And as I lay in the valley of the shadow of death and destruction I came face to face with this fact: When I had much I was thankful for little. Yet, in the face of great loss my journey began toward being grateful for much.

Grateful for two small children that I had no idea how I could provide for. Grateful for a car that ran, grateful for the people in my life who didn't abandon me and were not intimidated by my pain or what a mess I was.

Yes, it begun when pain pumped though my veins, that I came alive.

Really alive.

Because pain makes you aware of every second that ticks on the clock, every breath that pushes air through your lungs and every heaving sigh of your chest. 

My true sojourn begins with Thanksgiving Day, but my real life of living thanksgiving began under the surge and swell of a torn soul. 

When I began to praise God, to thank God for what He was doing in me and my life, I stepped through an invisible, but oh-so-very-real gate.

God is working through my life, redeeming my destruction, igniting this work that He began and will see to the end. He is present here in my mess, and is using everything that has happened if I will allow Him.  

Life is journey, a pilgrimage of thanksgiving. The reveling in the everyday, the sorrow, the celebrations. It’s easy to celebrate when everything goes well. The real test of our substance is how we praise Him in the dark night of the soul, in the weeping, loss and sitting among the shards of broken dreams.

God is relentless in His redemption and grace.

Oh praise Him!

Thanksgiving babies only celebrate their birthdays on Thanksgiving Day once every seven years. But this thanksgiving baby desires to lives every day with a song of freedom and thanksgiving and feet set to the path of the sacred and mystery of Jesus.

I'm wrapping my arms around you. Yes. You. 

Real women extend grace, revive, and breath life into each other.

Live out your beautiful life today and live it thankful friend.

Linking up at these lovely places. 


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© Rhonda Quaney