Sunday, January 6, 2013

Fantine's Finale- Finding Gratefulness Today

It's not happening again today. That is the thing about thankfulness. It's not magic. It's hard to cultivate a garden and dig up the weeds. It's hard to learn to love working out. I remember it took years to learn to enjoy running, to lose the fear of being out alone in the late or early hours, in the dark, around bears, big dogs, and worse people.

In my mountain area of Northeastern Pennsylvania, my daughter was the magic that made running possible. After the first mornings at St. John's Camp, running with Ally and Clara, I was about to head up and down roads where we'd seen momma bears and baby cubs, where fifty or sixty percent of my neighbors have one or more Brindle Boxers, Pit bulls and Rottweilers. They train or over-train them with shock collars and choke collars. These are dogs to precede the firearms, not to shoot bears, either. The same autumn, two hunters were killed by fellow hunters, in what police determined were vengeance killings. What? You got my buck? Who knew venison was so divisive?

I rose at five and geared up. My daughter rode the mountain bike along the country rode in the pre-dawn hours. We sang loud to scare the  bears. They are black bears, according to my National Forest Ranger friend from Promised Land State Park- Bill Delling. They are more scared of humans than humans are of them. I don't believe that after staring down at a habituated one eating from my garbage, or having the same she-bear raiding the neighbors bins while six kids screamed and played in the yard next door.  At least they aren't that aggressive.

My daughter did ride alongside me, pedaling slowly, for about a week. It was long enough for me to get my courage. It wasn't the bears, I realized, but the badly trained dogs, and humans, especially in Carbondale, which has a high drug-bust rate. My own Hoosier town is not much better, with all the ingredients for meth and bored farmk ids keeping each other company.

I learned to run though, in spite of the stitch in my side, in spite of my fears, in spite of the inconvenience of early hours, cold, heat, humidity, lack of sidewalks, sprains, lost music players, lonely hours.

Gollygeewhiz, that's how I'm going to learn thankfulness.

  1.  Last night my husband baked Prosphora. The smell of baking prosphora is unlike any other bread. I can't eat it, with my gluten issues, but smelling it is almost as good.
  2. I am thankful that I got out bed with the ability to pivot this morning. 
  3. For a goodly husband, who let me weep in the car.
  4. For long periods before loved ones die, when we get to prepare ourselves for the grief.
  5. For cell phones that let us reach our living beloveds to say, "Call. He lost his father."
  6. That our bodies and our souls/spirits, the physical world and spiritual one are not in duality. We are not just spirits in a material world. 
  7. For trends these days that will allow my friends and family to prepare my body in the church, bury it without too many chemicals in consecrated ground, and for folks around me who want this as much as I do. Having a friend who lost his father yesterday, and having our two Orthodox Parishes blessing the waters today, to remind us that God redeemed all of Creation, and our two parishes working on natural burial and cemetery plans is a blessing.
  8. For the slightly warmer morning. I couldn't run, but walking outside in the warm 36 degrees was refreshing.
  9. For feast days, when the folks who are my second family join together in merriment and feasting under the auspices of Grace and Mercy.
  10. Good food. Really. The borscht was awesome and good food can be ministerial.
  11. For the people I know who have a way of bringing some kind of cheer in spite of their suffering- like Christina, and Joanna.
  12. For the return of Downton Abbey. I really am looking forward to it.
  13. For the pleasure of writing.
  14. Still grateful for this treadmill, keeping me mobile during injury-recovery.
  15. For the music in my head: Finale of Les Miserables, which points to the hope and the future, the resurrection of the body. 
Now you are here
Again beside me
Now I can die in peace
For now my life is blessed

You will live, papa
You're going to live
It's too soon to ever say goodbye

Yes, cossette
Forbid me now to die
I'll obey 
I will try

On this page 
I write my last confession
Read it well
When I at last am sleeping
It's a story of those who always loved you
Your mother gave her life for you and gave you to my keeping

Come with me
Where chains will never bind you
All your grief
At last, at last behind you
Lord in heaven; 
Look down on him in mercy

Forgive me all my trespases and take me to your glory

Take my hand
And lead me to salvation
Take my love
For love is everlasting
And remember
The truth that once was spoken:
To love another person is to see the face of god

Do you hear the people sing?
Lost in the valley of the night
It is the music of a people who are climbing to the light
For the wretched of the earth
There is a flame that never dies
Even the darkest nights will end and the sun will rise

They will live again in freedom in the garden of the lord
They will walk behind the ploughshare
They will put away the sword
The chain will be broken and all men will have their reward!

Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond the barricade is there a world you long to see?
Do you hear the people sing?
Say, do you hear the distant drums?
It is the future that they bring when tomorrow comes! 

Aaaaah, aaaaah, aaaah, 
Tomorrow comes!

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