November in New England. The technicolor leaves have fallen and faded. The garden has been harvested. It is no longer a place of refuge and respite. As we turn our eye from the monochromatic sky to the decoration of the domestic, our thoughts turn inward, too. No longer looking outward with aspirations and hope for the new life of spring or the bounty of summer, we begin to settle in and reflect on the blessings and challenges of the year.
What are we thankful for? is a common question. Popular responses are the blessings we most often take for granted. But we realize at this time of year, with a chill in the air and lost loved ones remembered, that not everyone shares these gifts. That makes us all the more grateful. But we, too, will be there one day.
We will lose loved ones. We will be disappointed by life. We will be challenged. We will be in pain. What then? Will be still be thankful? There is a saying: What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger. True. In some ways, it was a very rough year. Many days I felt weary, physically and emotionally exhausted, and nearing despair. (For a generally hopeful person, that was new territory for me. I have to say, I didn’t like it a bit, and care not to ever return!) But here I am, on the other side. I lived through it. AND. . .I’m stronger. I am a stronger person today, on Thanksgiving, than I was on New Year’s Day.
Even with all the wonderful things that happened this year that were clearly gifts at first sight, the things that I am most thankful for are the strength, courage, and hope I gained after walking through, and sometimes crawling through, the painful trials. Even though I know there will be difficult times ahead, today I can stand and believe that there will be valuable lessons there, too. Opportunities for growth. And, yes, I will be thankful.