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Giving Thanks


I have been trying to read
the script cut in these hills—
a language carved in the shimmer of stubble
and the solid lines of soil, spoken
in the thud of apples falling
and the rasp of corn stalks finally bare.

The pheasants shout it with a rusty creak
as they gather in the fallen grain,
the blackbirds sing it
over their shoulders in parting,
and gold leaf illuminates the manuscript
where it is written in the trees.

Transcribed onto my human tongue
I believe it might sound like a lullaby,
or the simplest grace at table.
Across the gathering stillness
simply this: “For all that we have received,
dear God, make us truly grateful.”

-Lynn Ungar, from Blessing the Bread

Beautiful words from one of my favorite poets. I am grateful for poetry, for the way that words make the world come alive. I had the gift of spending yesterday immersed in poetry and song, selecting what I will be using for the contemplative retreat I am leading in a couple of weeks. I am grateful for the way a writer can thread shimmering pearls together until it has become a string of prayer beads anchoring me to this moment. I am thankful for the way music stirs me so that longings I had not named before rise up like bread.

I am so grateful for the presence of Abbess Petunia in my life, I hold her wrapped in love.  She wraps me in love in return. What a gift and mystery this mutual exchange across species is. Whatever tomorrow’s surgery brings, I am grateful for every moment I have with her as she continues to teach me about trust and yielding and devotion.

I am grateful for each one of you who visits this space and supports my work.  Two and a half years of blogging and I have discovered unforeseen treasures, connections to artists and poets and spiritual directors, gifted readers who receive my words and respond. Thank you for being here and thank you for your generous prayers for Petunia.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays in part because it is one of the least commercialized.  It is a celebration of gratitude and the expansiveness we experience when we remember that everything is gift.  It is a time to gather together with family or friends and feast, sharing in an act of communion that nourishes us for our work in the world.

Blessings on the week ahead. If you travel may your journey be safe.  May your heart break open for a moment at the sheer wonder of the “gold leaf illuminat(ing) the manuscript / where it is written in the trees.”  I am taking a break from blogging for these next few days, to have some breathing space before Advent begins, to allow room for gratitude to flourish in me like the summer fruit of so many months ago. I will return at the end of the week with reflections for the season of holy darkness, waiting, and birthing.

For what are you grateful during these dark autumn days as we move toward winter’s womb?

-Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts

PS — I will post an update about Tune when I know more. She has surgery Monday but the biopsy results probably won’t be in until Wednesday

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7 Responses

  1. i am grateful and thankful for you, dear friend. i am blessed to know ms. petunia. my prayers are with you both.
    thanksgiving holds an extra special place in my heart this year as friends and family who have not gathered together before will come to break bread and share wine in my home. it is indeed a blessing. i am so very thankful! xoxoxo

  2. Thinking of dear Tune today. I think it is surgery day today. Hope it goes well.

    ((((((hugs))))) to you both.

  3. Thanksgiving – one of my favorite holidays as well. I tear up when I count all that for which I am thankful. Sharing time with family and friends this year in a different setting than usual makes me all the more grateful and weepy. Enjoy your rest and may you and Ms Petunia feel the warm prayers that surround you tomorrow.

  4. Christine,
    I will be thinking of you and Tune. She has been on my mind constantly. I do hope “all shall be well.”

    Thank you, lovely woman, for being here for us. You truly bless my life.


    P.S…I got my prize yesterday. Jud read it and loved it. He thought it sounded like something Parker Palmer would like (he did the training and does workshops on his model). He said it fits with “the seasons.” I told him we had one on “the seasons.” Hmm…a stocking stuffer!!! T’will roll easily!

  5. Grateful for the simple beauty of life, eloquently reflected here in word and image, for family and friends (2 legged and 4 legged), hope that is not extinguished, abiding grace.