Abby said, “I’m getting rained on right now, but I see bright spots in the distance.”
She was driving, and she was literally telling me about the weather. (Please note correct usage of “literally.”)
“Is that a country music song?” I quipped, while jotting the quote on a convenient (and ironical) paystub.
Lordy, it’s hard to see bright spots in the distance when we’re getting rained on metaphorically.
I spent a weekend recently with a childhood bestie. Just for fun. Because we’ve always LYLASed each other (1970s elementary girl reference). By happenstance, she is a licensed therapist. I asked her to evaluate my lunacy, on a scale from zero to Weezer (“Steel Magnolias” reference). That seemed a fair goal for 48 hours of constant conversation. Back and forth. Talking and listening. Laughter and tears.
“Do you remember that?!?!”
We caught up on the decades and swapped happy times and heartaches. She told me about a season of gut-wrenching fear that was nightmarish and never-ending.
Except it ended.
She showed me a tattoo on her right forearm, written facing her, “Nec Aspera Terrent.” Latin meaning “Nor hardships terrify.” She got inked in the middle of her storm, to remind herself, when she was terrified, that she was not terrified. She marked herself with thanksgiving for the stillness on the horizon.
In 1691, after an impoverished year, the Plymouth colonists shared an autumnal harvest feast with the Wampanoag tribe, who had literally saved their lives. In 1863, during the bloody Civil War, when Americans savagely tore each other apart, Abraham Lincoln declared giving thanks as a way to preserve unity.
In the midst of battle, we give thanks for peace.
In the midst of cold, we give thanks for heat.
In the midst of frailty, we give thanks for strength.
In the midst of lean, we give thanks for enough.
In the midst of self-pity, we give thanks for social media. (Just checking that you’re paying attention.)
In the midst of quarantine, we give thanks for community.
In the midst of chatter, we give thanks for silence. And vice versa.
In the midst of inability to show grace, we give thanks for grace.
I remember graduating from college, a couple weeks shy of 22 years old, thinking, “Well, I’m as educated now as I’ll ever be.” I pomp and circumstanced across the stage, moved the tassel from right to left, exchanged the mortar board for a flower-wreathed wedding veil, and sashayed down the aisle to “Ode to Joy.”
I’ve proceeded to learn at least a few things since that monumental summer of 1987. What I’ve learned most is that I really don’t know much at all.
However, I know this, both literally and metaphorically:
Eventually, the rain breaks the sweltering heat; and eventually, the sun breaks the torrential rain. In the meantime, all I need surrounding me are my people. And Thanksgiving.
We can find Thanksgiving whenever we look for it. I hope you find it on Thursday.
Celeste King Conner will be giving thanks for all of her family this week, while celebrating the holiday with some of them. Share your thankfulness with her at email@example.com.