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I’m supposed to be doing an assignment for my photography class. Weary of predictable photographs shot straight on, our instructor has assigned a prepositional scavenger hunt requiring us to shoot from various angles – against, across, beyond, beneath, around, behind, below, between, inside, outside, on top of, toward, through, and upon. And so it was that I found myself wandering the grounds of the Arizona State Capitol yesterday afternoon, eventually sitting below a canopy of shimmering green and pink. I don’t know how long I sat there, but long enough for prepositions and perspectives to give way to gratitude and grace, Amazing Grace and thoughts of Van Morrison in full flow at The Hollywood Bowl, mystifying us with Astral Weeks/I Believe I have Transcended, a song he once described as “one where you can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”


I could say the Thanksgiving Holiday had something to do with my moment of transcendence looking up at the leaves, but that would not be true. Even after living in America for over twenty years, the celebration of Thanksgiving does not come naturally to me, and it amuses me that some of my American friends are still surprised when I tell them there is no such holiday in Ireland. I know whereof she speaks, when Carole Coleman, an Irish woman living in America, apologizes to family and friends, “we will be doing the turkey thing all over again five weeks from now,” because Christmas is the holiday that warms us.

Yesterday, enchanted by looking up and losing track of time, I found my footing once more and perhaps a kind of gratitude like that Annie Lamott describes in Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers:

Thanks is the prayer of relief that help was on the way, that either the cavalry arrived, or that the plates of the earth shifted and that somehow, you got your sense of humor back, or you avoided the car that was right in front of you that you looked about to hit.

And so it could be the pettiest, dumbest thing, but it could also be that you get the phone call that the diagnosis was much, much, much better than you had been fearing. And you say the full prayer, and its entirety, is: Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. But for reasons of brevity, I just refer to it as Thanks. It’s amazement and relief that you caught a break, that your family caught a break, that you didn’t have any reason to believe that things were really going to be OK, and then they were and you just can’t help but say thank you.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

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