The Sunday Scribblings prompt is "Gratitude".
Gratitude! I looked at that prompt and felt overwhelmed. How could I possibly begin to express gratitude for the great messy canvas of my life with its liberal splatters of joy? How could I possibly encompass everything from the squirrel just now flirting its tail on the redwood branch outside of my window to the memory of a child’s hand held trustingly in mine or the comfort of my true love still beside me after sixty-seven years? The good fortune to be born to the best parents in the world? To be able to take pleasure in the colorful juxtaposition of a magenta sweater thrown down on a pale green bedspread? A border of brilliant and pungent marigolds? No, I thought, I can’t list a million things nor do I want to slight even one of them. How can I rein them in?
Then I happened to glance at my calendar and realized that today, Saturday, November 22, is the 45th anniversary of the assassination of John. F. Kennedy. More than a generation of Americans do not have a memory of the deep wave of grief that enveloped the nation. It was personal. It was real. (Yes, I’m still writing of “gratitude”. Bear with me!) I felt that my sorrow would never go away. We watched the funeral on our little 4 inch sometimes-operational television screen in its huge console. Thanksgiving followed, and it was a somber one. We drove up to our retreat in the redwoods of northern California. On our dashboard was the new issue of LIFE magazine with a photo portrait of the young president. I had laid on it a blossom from the last red rose blooming in our garden.
The day after Thanksgiving, I wrote the following sonnet, expressing my gratitude for those factors that helped mitigate our crippling grief:
YESTERDAY WAS THANKSGIVING
and still we mourned. While chill November lay
upon your hill, we gathered close beside
our fires, and, as you had proclaimed a day
of thanks, gave thanks to God though you had died.
We thanked Him for Himself, and asked He lead
the sad man with the gray November face
who now must bear your load and rue the deed
that forced him to replace your summer grace.
Thanked God, that, through grief shared, our festal board
extended North to South; and that the past
sent Brahms to comfort us, and Donne to warn,
sent Whitman’s sprig of lilac; that a horde
of varicolored races sat at last
in common sorrow. And still we mourn.
The splatters of joy on my canvas outweigh those of grief a thousand fold, and included among them are those voices from the past that once brought comfort and are also a current joy and to whom I am grateful. And now, more than ever, I am grateful for our sense of unity as a people.
I hope you all enjoy a happy Thanksgiving.