What are you thankful for? The question is that simple, but why do I find it so difficult to respond with a meaningful answer? Is it family? Yes, of course. Friends, absolutely! Turkey…yes (…but tell me my reader. Where did that tradition of turkey slip into the string of festivities? “Food for thought” of the things I take for granted).
This thanksgiving I thoughtfully pondered the question, “What am I thankful for?”I dreaded something that made answering the question difficult. I feared the question, but I knew this was the answer.
Monday s’ a com’n. Life would go back to the grind. The holiday would not last. The feast would be over. And the post dinner coma would leave all on their backs in front of the television.
Why, as I lifted each fork of chocolate pie to my mouth, was I not able to think of a meaningful thing to add to the words of thanks passed around the table? I could say I was so consumed with the delicious, smooth flavor flooding my mouth that I could not speak. I could be over thinking as a demanding writer and speaker, but no. I used none of those excuses. I knew deep down, and it was a fear of the future.
Fear has a way of controlling the future through the present. It all begins as Corrie Tenboom writes with a “what if.” Maybe more specifically it is a fear of the future because we desire to control the things that happen to us or else it is a dread of the things to come. I admit this is quite a pessimistic approach to viewing the future because with it I know there are tremendous opportunities, joys, adventures, and hopes. These treasures we all look forward to are unseen, as if hiding in a wood on a foggy, winding trail. One can stand there in the dark of the forest afraid to go forward unable to go back, neither progressing forward nor backward.
An image from a favorite childhood book series will forever influence me when I am exhausted and stumbling through life. “Straight ahead. Over smooth or rough, stick or stone, go straight ahead (Lewis, C.S). On that trail there is a large cat fierce, trustworthy, and above all good. Warmth emanates from his body, and he stands besides that straggler breathing strength and courage. He steps forward. The lion speaks to the child, and he forgets his fear on the trail. The lion in his book, “the Horse and his Boy” speaks to the young child in such a way that the fear and obsession over the future disappears.
I often think that I am that child lost, chased by lions, eager for the light at the end of the wood, and in need of rest. I have a lion by my side. He is the King not only of the forest but of my life, my soul, and my heart. He has shown me beautiful things that change my perspective on everything. I walk in the woods, and as I walk I am timid, but I keep walking my eyes straight ahead and my steps follow. That is the nature of life. We are not in control of it. The sooner we come to grips with that truth, the sooner we can find peace, and so I walk without that fear holding his hairy mane as He guides me over rocks and brambles and as he teaches me how to navigate the trails and as he raises me up.
I think also that thanksgiving is not static. Post holiday depression only controls the depressed as long as he or she determines to give joy a deadline. Thanksgiving is a state of mind. It is not the 24 hours surrounded by friends or loved by family or full of turkey to which, however, we do give thanks. It is the lion, the King. It is God to whom I give thanks because then I find thanks for friends, family, birds, music, books, art, flowers, good food, conversation, questions, and especially the thanksgiving holiday.
A picture in my grandmother’s house shows a busy woman cleaning the house, cooking and scrubbing amidst the furry of her house falling in around her. She is la ama de casa, “the love of the house.” She has a peaceful expression on her face. In letters below the image it reads, “Fear not tomorrow, God is already there.”
I walk the night with a Lion by my side. And as I walk, telling Him all my concerns He says to me, “look at the stars. Look at the violets beside the trail. Look at the bend of the tree over the trail. Put your hand on my heart and in my mane. Feel its warmth. I am leading you to a feast in my kingdom that will last forever. It is a holiday for always, and I delight to share it all with you. Yes, with you. It is for you…straight ahead.