If I were of an orthodox religion and living by an old testament I would spend much of my time being thankful. I would be thankful every day about food, water, friends, abilities I possess. Recently I heard an interview with A.J Jacobs, author of The year of living biblically , about his life experiences while writing the book. The book is written tongue in cheek. Cheekyness is normally the joyful meter in which I live my life. But that is not what attracted me to this book right now.
This fall is more somber. A friend lost her child, and the weight of that, which rests very lightly on me still presses. I feel it is a hand on my shoulder telling me that I need to gather wisdom this year to store up for my own times of trouble.
So, out of listening to the author's talk about this cheeky/serious book (which I am going to read )the message I get right now is the interior of my head is light years away from a devout person who believes their "thank you's" to the world resonate and create the world. ...giving them power... (powerful feelings at any rate). Looking at my daily positive/ spiritual practices - I don't thank daily, but I do laugh at something daily.
But humour and death- not compatible.
Serenity, contentment, depth of love perceived-- perhaps can be on the positive side of the scale when measuring the weight of death. What does that give me ? Back to religion, not so humorous. It's behavorism- rewards and punishments dependent on behavior. A construct- through which intrinsic human reactions and nature gleams. The rich, soft fabric on the alter holding the sword and drinking cup.
It's also true that the bible is all about death. The elephant in the biblical room is death- avoiding what our eyes see as death. disintegration. nothingness. loss of love. loss of irreplaceable, non-replicable things. Well, its not the elephant. It's very concrete, but I think in modern times, in the US death is not the gateway to religious thinking as much. It's the sideroom occasionally stepping in... or the exit. Another gift of power/release from suffering given to believers by religion. No loss..reunion possibilities.
I don't get that. I can't be religious. I can yearn to avoid my own disintegration and to be blessed by seeing old gone faces again. But I don't get those wishes. I get something different. I get the knowledge that I need to love everyone I love right now.
As a mother, I am the creator of two of these irreplaceable things. I made them. I remember making them. My body knit them, my brain dreamed about them. Part of me is out in the world walking around, part of my flesh and blood originally and now part of my soul. I hover over them, I delight in their thoughts and push my thoughts on them.
I am not religious. I do not miss it, nor feel the weight of it. New things are shiny. Old things are cozy but cannot speak as freshly sometimes. I imagine religion can become so personal- you have said that phrase so many times, you only attune with what resonates to you- that it does lose meaning for some. On the other side, as a non- religious person religion can be a vast bulky inaccessible object. Read a passage of the bible and it might clonk- no other thoughts to string it up and let it be seen in a certain light. My ideas about religion right now are I still do not need a belief system to replace mine. But I need to dwell a while in the land of the thinkers about life and death. Not forever, but I have avoided thinking about it all my life and was afraid.
Of course these thinkers are everywhere, not only in churches. Goya painting his house with devouring monsters...
I think now before my body becomes a trap, which is one way we often end life -I want to think about life and death. Right now. And... as I think about it -for me - death is nothing. It's all about life. I take deep satisfaction in realizing how strongly I believe that. I can fear or not fear death but I know what I want to live for. So, no need to think about death so much after all, but much need to think about life. I used to be afraid of death. I do not wish for it now, but I am not as afraid. why? because now I have more fear for my children and their suffering than of death ? I think maybe...What is that all about? What are we?
Today, I am joyful to have gotten a gleam of gold from religion. Much as bits of religion distress and annoy me I want to wrap myself in the gold of what is life refined by people thinking about what makes life worth the suffering. Thankfulness is that velvet for me today.
A day of thankfullness: I am thankful for many things; but I do not say "thank you" for the clean glass of water. And "thank you" again as I open my door onto sunny weather and tomatoes ready for picking. And I do not say "thank you" as my daughter's clear face turns to me as dear to me as anything I own. I think of yesterday from morning to night...
You know, I would spend the whole day saying " thank you". Isn't that a realization? When I know that yesterday I grumbled quite a bit- when I stubbed my toe, when I had to take the dog out, when my daughter's small face -as dear to me as anything I own- turned toward me in the middle of the night and said " mommy, it's morning time". and I said " no, It's still night. Let's go back to bed".
Rain on the window pane. A bus goes by. Red and yellow lights seen through rain.
I am thankful... I married my good friend Aaron. I gave birth to Marie. I am thankful my daughters are healthy. I am thankful my parents are alive. I am thankful I am doing this list right now. I am thankful for all the books I have read. I am thankful for the luck of my birth not putting obstacles upon me that crushed me as part of my life. I am thankful I have friends. I am thankful I am not angry and have learned to understand myself better. I am thankful to be in this moment open as a cup.
**I could end here, but nope, when something is pretty it is not necesarily done. Not if it is a thought. This writing here is not an art. This has no intention of accomplishing anything but looping around and around until it stops all by itself because new thoughts are finished.
Thankfulness, what is it? It allows suffering. What if I were my mom? Stuck in bed with a broken back that will not mend. Knives poised at my heart and liver- for real not Shakespearian metaphors for danger and words that sound nice poised at different points of the body.
I would still be thankful I think. Thankful for the trees outside, for my dear husband who takes care of me everyday. Every day. For my 4 daughters walking calmly in the world and having children of their own.