Sunday, November 22, 2009

What I am thankful for - the non-traditional list

1. Being loved by God, regardless of how odd, weird, awkward, or just plain stupid I can be.
Or we all can be, lest anyone out there has the audacity to think he/she isn't odd, weird, awkward, or just plain stupid. We all are. We all ram our feet chokingly down our throats at inopportune moments (congratulations on the pregnancy? Oh, you're not. Oh...), we all trip on the sidewalks of life while we're trying to be cool, and we all think more about ourselves than we ought. Or, for the more clueless among us: we all poo, we all fart, we all have interesting things coming out of our nose and mouths that no one wants to see or hear, and yes, your hair is thinning and no one wants to hear about your toy train hobby. So there, and God loves you.

2. Hating brussel sprouts.
I do. I've tried them dozens of ways, and they just taste like I licked a pile of ash every time. But I love most foods, and like many people, I have foods I won't eat because I don't like the way they taste. This, my friends, is a privilege. Hungry people don't eschew brussel sprouts or a particular cut of beef. And in this country alone, one in six is food insecure, which is a great way to say one in six Americans isn't sure where the next couple of meals will come from. So here's a thought: total up the money you spend on Thanksgiving dinner, and write a check for 10% to the local food bank. You probably won't miss that extra food, but our fellow children in the family of God sure would like to see something in their pantries.

3. Friends who will tell me I do look fat in those pants.
You know, friends who get me and love me enough to be honest with me. And whom I love enough to trust with honesty - if that part is missing, you're just being invasive with people, so don't read this post as permission to be honest with everyone you see. After a most interesting date recently with a man who clearly did not get me, I realize that those people who laugh with me and at me, remind me that I am not perfect (even make fun of my imperfections in a way that is gentle but pointed enough so I don't miss the point), and do not immediately think I'm crazy when I tear up over that stupid Josh Groban song, "Believe." These are the friends who will tell me this guy is not the man for me, that my taste in old-school rap is weird, and that I am loved. A century or two ago we'd all have been burned at the stake for heresy, but hey, time change. Friends like this don't fall off trees, and I hope I never forget that.

4. The Episcopal Church.
We are messy and democratic, and I don't think the two are severable. We open the doors of the party to all, even when we aren't sure what to do with all the guests who will come and even when we know some of the guests won't get along (just sit them at opposite ends of the table, dear). And we are beautiful and elegant in our life and prayers. Like families in the South, we don't hide our crazy relatives; we sit on the front porch with them. Good grief, we make them saints. And why not, because at the end of the day, we ALL eventually become someone's crazy relative. I'm thankful that this church's favorite word is "love." Love is patient and complicated. Love is kind and uncomfortable. And love never fails.

5. Zappos. I wear slim-width shoes. For you of the male persuasion, this means that I don't buy my shoes off the rack. And I don't get them for $39.99 regular price. As a child, the only shoes that fit were these lovely lace-up orthopaedic numbers that most of us see the retired bunch wearing with velour pants with elastic waistbands. So perhaps you can see how shoes became an issue with me that would be worked out in therapy in later years. But now I am older, and those of us with skinny feet have become a retail giants. And Zappos carries amazing, beautiful Italian leather shoes in a variety of heel heights and styles for skinny-ass feet like mine. What, priests can't care about shoes?

6. No.
We forget that, don't we, that "no" is an answer from God. "No, Moses, you can't marry Pharaoh's daughter, no matter how hot she is. I've got something else in mind." Or what about, "No, Peter, you aren't perfect, and people get annoyed at you when you act like you are. Just be yourself and see what happens." We humans are good at these notions, these ideas of what we want to do with our lives, then we go about finding evidence and justification for our personal ambitions and refuse to hear the holy no. No hurts and stings, but probably not as much as the mess we make when we charge ahead with our own agendas, well off the course God would like us to walk. So, I'm thankful for the people who hear God say, "No," and have the courage to wait patiently, or wait with anxiety, for the moment when, "Yes" shows the way.

7. Octopus.
I ate it in Spain. I did more than eat it. I discovered I love pulpo, as it is known. I adored it. So I ate it almost every day that I could. It's delicious and meaty, not that chewy calamari texture I expected. Sauteed in garlic and butter and parsley, nothing tastes better stabbed on the end of a toothpick at at tapas bar. Which just goes to show me that Mom was right - you'll never know if you don't try. Not a bad philosophy for life, actually. So I'm thankful for the courage to try. Some things I love, some I like, some I'll tolerate because love reminds me to do so, and some things and people I'll respectfully love in that mysterious holy way that God asks us to love, but I won't invite to my house to watch Alabama football (oh yeah, another thing on the thankful list...).

And you? What not-so-obvious things make you thankful?

Oh, and I'm thankful for you who read this blog. I'm amazed anyone besides Mary and I read our posts. So thanks for thinking we're worth a few minutes of your time.

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