Give gratitude for unknown blessings already on their way. Have faith.
~Native American Proverb~
For what stories in our lives are we grateful? Our personal stories weave tapestries of bright and subtle hues with varying fibers. White satin ribbon once wrapped a precious item and is now stained with tears while gossamer-thin silver and gold threads shout alleluia. Our narratives include journeys through sadness, grief, delight, even rapture. These hills and valleys in our life-long expeditions form who we are. Some may ask why the valleys? If we do not acknowledge our tribulations, how will we recognize joy in the morning? Gratefulness is more than saying thank you: it is love-in-action steeped in humility.
In less than a week, people will gather at their Thanksgiving repasts. Bountiful food harvests on tables will elicit prayers of gratitude as plump, rosy-cheeked grandmothers count blessings. Gratefulness lives daily for those in our lives and anyone we grace with a smile. We are grateful for our Mother Earth that sustains life, the tiny and large blessings always present, and those to come, including the billion acts of kindness we never hear about in the news. And, most assuredly, loving life itself!
I am grateful to each of you who take the time to read this occasional blog. I offer the following images (with brief anecdotes) created in late October and early November. I bow to my faith, working in tandem with a most beloved, sometimes whimsical, Spirit who always guides me.
Saturday, November 13, brought dark clouds, rain, and a clap of thunder at dusk. I bolted from the kitchen to the living room window. I stared for days at the last of the clinging orange leaves, contemplating whether or not to photograph them. On this Saturday, at this stormy hour, I wondered why the color was so bright? I set my camera on a tripod for a slow shutter release because I had little light. I took seven pictures, but only one survived. Rationally, this is not possible. I’ve become accustomed, though, to the mystery of light and dark. And, yes, another divine intervention in my life.
The leaf is heart-shaped. At first, it appeared a typical, colorful autumn leaf. But I saw a small topographical map with roads, terrains of hills, valleys, desert, and rugged jungle. The light and dark became my focus, for it is part of our whole existence. The leaf remains with me, less vibrant, still heart-shaped, tucked into my Bible on a page where a favorite Psalm resides.
I placed the heart leaf on a canvas underpainting. When I saw the Mistake, I was mystified. What went wrong with my camera or lighting or both? Yet, I did not return to my work table, trying to perfect what I believed the image should be. The Mistake was a supernatural gift: perfection in imperfection.
Aslan was well-loved. He was a force of nature, ever-moving and hard to photograph! This image was shot with film and developed in an ‘old school’ dark room. I was thrilled to find a print to scan and preserve Aslan’s memory. I remember him well, and I know he lives on in his owners’ hearts.
One of the last of the dahlias presented herself to me on an early November walk. Her colors vibrated; her petals perfection. I focused, however, on the energy at the center: her heartbeat. Thank you, dear Dahlia, for staying long enough for my camera to do its work!
On a mystical foggy morning, I ventured out for a walk to the River. The following images were wrapped in this otherworldly fog I had not seen since last in London. The season’s remaining boats were visible with reflections in the water, but the shoreline was invisible! The last rose in one of my favorite garden haunts shone through the thick fog. Then, Hunk emerged through the mist as I approached our local cafe for a well-earned mocha latte. What can I say about the tender spirit of Hunk? He is nine months old and captured my heart with soft kisses of my hands. He also honored my camera, posing for me. Good boy, Hunk. Good boy. 💜
A collaboration was afoot when I found this black-limbed tree in a spectrum of color. This collaboration meant perfect light, not too bright nor too dreary. It also required that I must be ready, and I was. I’m infatuated with this tree, which slowly turned into dazzling, golden leaves that continue, as of this writing, to cascade downward, blanketing our sidewalks in gold.
I leave you with the lyrics to an old Shaker tune. It reminds me that I can never possess enough humility. But, this is why we’re here! So I continue on the path: uttering a meaningful thank you, not just words, being deeply grateful and fully aware of how blessed I am.
‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free,
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain’d,
To bow and to bend we will not be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come round right.
May you and yours have a blessed Thanksgiving. And always, God’s speed.