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In this month's edition of These Ozarks Hills, Marideth Sisco reflects on how to carry forward the spirit of Thanksgiving.
This is Marideth Sisco, raspy voice and all, for These Ozarks Hills. Well, another Thanksgiving is behind us, and as always, I wonder how long it will last, this remembering to give thanks. Sometimes for me the feeling is short-lived as I get into other things, and something irritates me and I wander off into resentments and ironies and sarcasm - all have their place, but it's not necessarily a good one. Someone told me once that in some cultures, every word in the language that refers to gratitude also implies some resentment, as though to say, Oh, sure, now you've done something for me, so now I have to be grateful. Not exactly a positive attitude. And then I read the other day that all this positive thinking is ruining the country. I couldn't quite get my head around that one. It led me to thinking about this holiday of ours that is specifically for the purpose of celebrating Thanksgiving. Of being grateful for our good fortune. Even as I say that, I'm already hearing some grumbling out there. What good fortune? We're in a recession, and at war, and we've been robbed by the banks, and on and on. Certainly we are no stranger to hard times these days. But then I think about my young friend, who recently completed 30 radiation treatments for a brain tumor and who does not yet know the outcome. And yet she forges on, reading, writing, rejoicing in new opportunities and new knowledge, while chiding me for not doing enough reading. And writing. She, meanwhile, is busily at work participating in the National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, where the goal is to try to write 50,000 words in a month, brain tumor, and homework, be damned. It's enough to shame me for my little worries and resentments, this remarkable display of the courage to keep forging on, not denying, but merely disregarding the challenges and the naysayers. I think of other friends who have survived things like cancer, and who make of every day a chance to joyfully celebrate life, disregarding the shadow that lurks just out of sight. It takes courage to give thanks with no strings attached. I know some will say it's their faith in God that keeps them going, just as others remind us that the fates are merciless and do not heed our call. And I know that none of these who forge on despite circumstance are doing it out of a lack of fear. Some define courage as Grace under Pressure. It may be that, but it's also something else.I remember confessing once to a friend that I wished I had the courage to take the next step toward something I desired in my life, but I was afraid. They replied, "It's not courage if you're not afraid. Courage is when you're afraid, but you do it anyway."Well. There went my out. So I took the step, and it was hard, but everything worked out, eventually. And I ended up in a far better place than if I had succumbed to my lack of faith in myself.So where's the lesson in this? Who are we thanking, and for what? Well. Whether we call on the great undefineable by one of the 9,000 names of God, or the great mystery, or the source of all things, we probably should acknowledge first that there is thanks to be given, just for the great good fortune of being alive on this green earth at this precious moment. Or as that great Zen-Episcopal scholar Alan Watts put it, for Being Here Now. Having survived 66 years of life, and cancer, and heart surgery, and California, I believe I can safely say that that's enough for me, just being here now. And when I throw in friends who know me well and like me anyway, and I can look out the window every day on these Ozarks hills, I am the owner of blessings untold.If there's one thing I would change, it would be the hurt we cause each other, either on a global scale or a very personal one. Life is hard enough without trying to ease our pain by passing it on. I'm hoping that with Thanksgiving fresh in our minds, we can find in this season a gift that is more precious than anything you'll find in the shops - the gift of courage to disregard for a moment, the things that we fear in life and instead offer gratitude for all that is good in this great journey of now after now after now. And don’t give resentment a seat on that bus, because it's bad company. This is Marideth Sisco, giving thanks for the privilege of living in These Ozarks Hills, and saying Thanks for being here.