This year I am thankful for:

The harvest – for summer tomatoes and crisp corn, for crunchy brussels sprouts still cold from being picked, for caramel-like honey from Ohio bees and sweet syrup from the maples of Maine. For apples sliced on wooden cutting boards and peaches eaten over the kitchen sink, for concord grapes and the pucker they leave on my lips, for colorful mums set outside my apartment door.

Books – for a book I read every year that always tells me something new, a book read I begged a friend to read and the chance to talk about it with them, a book that woke me up, a book that brought me peace.

Dogs – for friends who send me silly dog videos to make me laugh, for memories of my childhood pets and the joy that they brought, for my dog Tess who brings fun and levity and teaches me responsibility.

Health – for the ability to run and walk and see and hear and smell and taste all the good things of this world. For a brain that process thoughts and tongues that allow me to ask questions. For teeth that can bite an apple and bones that all work together in a beautifully complex way.

Homes – for all the nine places I’ve called home and the lessons they taught me and the memories they hold, for the home I left in April and the home I moved to in May, for the apartment I come back to after work and its big windows and spacious kitchen and floorboards that creak when you dance. For a better theology of home, for friends who write about home, for the chance to realize home is an important thing to keep learning about.

Family – for new life and the chance to remember that such life is precious. For conversations on the phone and honest dialogue about the challenges ahead. For moments to sit in a hot gymnasium and celebrate the memories of being 18 and 17 and 12 and 9 and cross country was the center of our world. For the chance to have the parents I do, for the chance to love the family I’m a part of.

Prayer – for forgiveness from God when I do not pray, for intercessors that pray for me. For friends who send prayers over texts and hold hands and bow heads at fast food restaurant tables. For prayers said before wedding ceremonies in the company of mothers and grandmothers and sisters and roommates. For the chance to simply be able to pray and know that I can.

Quiet – for the moments when I don’t know what to say or think, when the answer is not what I want. For the many moments God uses the quiet to speak clearly.

Deep is the darkness of our time­ of our land and of all lands and of all of us. And most of what light comes our way is as random and elusive as the lights of cars winding up the long hill at night. It is not a great light we have seen but only a small light. But we have come here anyway because somewhere, sometime, once, for all of us, an exodus happened, a grim sea parted, and we were delivered enough from bondage to ourselves to see at least where true deliverance lies. We have come here because although there is always much in the world and much in ourselves that drives us toward despair, and although we ourselves are often among those who lay waste the Temple in its holiness, we have never been abandoned in our dereliction by the one whom no Temple can ever contain. And the great light that our small light foretells is that the one who from the beginning has led us out, led us forth, and who has been with us through the perpetual ruins we have wandered in ever since, and through the long delay, is the one whom we wait for in great hope and who in great hope waits also for us. Listen to your lives for the sound of him. Search even in the dark for the light and the love and the life because they are there also, and we are known each one by name.”  – Frederick Buechner, Delay 

These are the things I am giving thanks for this year. It has been one of the hardest years of my life, but a year where much good occurred, too. “Lord of all to thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise.” 

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