Faith and Thanksgiving

Forgive my absence: we had a month of viral pneumonia in my household. My partner and child were down for twenty-five days. I was stressed and afraid for them. So many doctor trips. So much ineffective medicine. Nothing to do but wait it out.

It’s hard to feel so helpless. It’s come to my attention that I’ve been somewhat dark in my posts (thank you, Susan!) So let me take a dark sojourn. A vacation from myself. A spa day, a lark. It’s Thanksgiving. Well, almost and by the time you read this it will be past. So I’m going to talk about joy. Fleeting, irresistible, and you know of course when I think of Thanksgiving I think of suffering because I’m not proud of our warmongering ways: past and present-tense included. But, no, this is a sojourn. So I will interpret Thanksgiving through the lens of faith.

Of course, faith is a funny thing. At once absolute and invisible. You either have it or you don’t. There’s no hedging bets. It’s about grace. It’s about not being the director, the president of your life association, your own free-will agent. There is a backseat waiting for you to slide into. A strap so you can buckle up. Get comfy.

Faith is a driving force. It does not whisper. It’s knocking at the door. Sometimes I’d like to run away. Sometimes I think I can. And then some small thing happens to remind me that we’re all connected. We are atoms and molecules. If we had the ability, all we would see are atoms swirling: no me, no you, no self. Science has proven this. Not to mention the fact of string theory: multiple layers of time and space, coexisting in one contextual location. Dark matter: all the things we cannot see that have mass. What joy! I can wave my hand in the air and touch realms and realms.

Faith is trust. Faith is belief in other. Something beyond the self. Science, a friend, a God, a Buddha, a Mohammed, a Jesus, a Gandhi, a Martin Luther King, a neighbor, a girl with braces and glasses crying on the bus on the way home from school. Wait, that’s me. When I was ten. I was teased mercilessly. I was the awkward geeky kid who believed in GOD. In everything I was told. I was an acolyte. I was a choir member singing off key. I had a pure heart. And sometimes I can feel that pure faith burning inside me, wanting to pry itself free. The way I see such pureness in the face of Sophie, my daughter. Faith is remembering to be vulnerable. To take chances. To open. To always open to others. To serve. To put yourself last in everything. Or just remembering to try. Remembering all the ones that lived and died.

Joy is a sort of burning of fetters. Burning in my heart. This is true. Joy is suffering too because I cling to it. I want to wrap myself around it. But it is and is not real. It is simply a state of being. Recognition. Faith pushes me forward. Tempts me to become a child. To remember awe. To look into the sky and wonder at its depth. Let me always remember, let me carry it forward in all that I do, ignore outcomes, take joy in the doing. Let me remember to be kinder. To take faith. To eat it. To digest it so that I cannot escape purpose and direction.

I am thankful.

I am joy.

I am faith.

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5 Responses to “Faith and Thanksgiving”

  1. Jane Says:
    November 24th, 2010 at 11:04 am

    Jennifer, I am so sorry to hear that you and your family have been so sick, viral pneumonia is debilitating…awful! I hope that seeing your column here means all is well your loved ones.

    My best to you all this Thanksgiving.

  2. Gretta Hall Says:
    November 24th, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Awesomely beautiful Thanksgiving gift to us all cuz!

    Hope you have a great one!

  3. jennifer harris Says:
    November 24th, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Thanks so much, Jane, Gretta! I really apprciate the kind words. yes, everyone is doing quite well now!!

  4. Kim Lowry Says:
    November 25th, 2010 at 11:36 am

    Thank you, and add “so much” as your writing that I just got on this easy holiday made much clear for me. Thank you for the faith of whatever one may choose, and the tears that it brings. Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. Caroline Says:
    November 25th, 2010 at 11:40 am

    Lovely and heartfelt. I hope all are well. Happy Thanksgiving.

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