Thankgsiving and Sorrow


Friends, as I write this I am perched in my living room letting my sister and Mom do all the work. I sprained my ankle this morning and spent all morning in the emergency room. I'm so relieved it wasn't a fracture (it sure FELT like one!), and I'm laughing that the universe is giving me a big fat lesson in RECEIVING today. Apparently Operation Hibernation is commencing with more vigor than I had anticipated.

There are countless things to be thankful for today and every day. But I've been teaching a class on White Privilege, too, and I'm also acutely aware this year of how this holiday came from subjugation. It usually doesn't happen to me very often that I feel only one thing. Despair comes with anger, happiness comes with wistfulness. Today, thanksgiving comes with sorrow, and I think there's wisdom in feeling it all. Emily and I are reading Miriam Greenspan's "Healing through the Dark Emotions," and Miriam would tell us there isn't a path to growth without going through fear, shame, and despair.

I woke up thinking about all that this morning, and here's a very unedited poem about waking to rain and reality. I'm thankful for all the Native Americans that have survived, and this poem is for them. I'm sorry.

Thanksgiving and Sorrow

Looks like the long Thanksgiving walk I imagined is doomed
unless we want to get soaked and track mud through the house
I spent all day cleaning.

For all our preparations--grocery store runs, baking pies,
setting tables and sending emails--
we are still at the mercy of this earth
and whatever deluge or gift it is hiding.

The first Thanksgiving wasn't a sweet, inclusive feast
with candlelit expressions of gratitude
or the peacemaking we love to imagine.

The Pilgrims gave thanks
after they'd massacred Indians,
raised bloody glasses to conquest, wealth, domination.

Lord, I am ashamed to come from them.

Help me make room at my table
for the storms and the rain, for the stories
I want to forget.

Help me make room for the outrage and heartbreak
that's mine to steward,
for the thanksgiving that will come
only when we've set a place for everyone,
when we've surveyed the damage
and called it our own,
when we know that saying prayers
will never be enough.