Well, it’s our national day of thanksgiving, and it seems appropriate to enumerate all the things one is grateful for. In today’s economy I think it is difficult for some people to see the places in their lives for which they can be grateful. Also all of those who are ill and have not come to terms with their situations may be struggling to be grateful.

I feel moved to remember the many blessings I have received during the last year. And while I put them down on THE day – T-day, there are many other times I have said ‘thank you’ silently, privately, in my heart. The photo is of the Organ Pipe cactus in southwestern Arizona. It symbolizes to me the many ways I feel grateful to the Creator.

I thank the angels every time I’m been blessed with safety on the road, especially when I could have been in danger. I thank all the people who, without knowing it, made my summer journey pleasant. The folks in John Day were generous, honest, caring people. And all the folks I encountered along the way, making life enjoyable.

On Veteran’s Day I made a point to personally thank those I knew of who had given military service to the U.S. Of course I was reminded of Doc’s service in the U.S. Marine Corps, and the fact that his passing was connected to his service disability that began in the early 1960s. I met a highly decorated veteran here in the park who refused to receive all his decorations, and still, for his personal reasons, refuses to file with the Veterans Administration for disability. He still struggles with flashbacks from the Vietnam war. And there is Doc’s brother, Doug, who also suffered aftershocks from that war. It just became important to say thank you, even though I was removed from it all.

I thank my ancestors from whom I received many good and not-so-good traits!!! That DNA is strong stuff and through it I have survived, just as they did. They were pioneers, and I cannot imagine the hardships they went through. Yet, I carry the same pioneering spirit within me – and it shows up in my leaving the ‘comfortable life’ and traveling like a gypsy, not only in a physical way, but also in a spiritual way.

Years ago I used to go for walks after dinner, and I found myself ‘praying’ a part of the Lutheran liturgy – a psalm. “Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of your salvation and uphold me with your” free spirit.” Not long afterward my life changed. Perhaps it was already changing and I wasn’t so aware of it. But I did wonder why I was saying this prayer as I walked. I am grateful for the changes, although they brought pain to my family. I am grateful to them and hope they have forgiven me.

I am grateful for all the blessings from my family – my children, grandchildren, sisters and ‘extended family’, those who feel like family but who are not blood kin. You have been and will remain my teachers about love.

I am grateful for my intellect and common sense – those things that help me continue to live in a simple, yet comfortable way. I’m grateful that I have a good brain, that I can perceive and discern.

I’m grateful for the folks who are around me, supporting me, although they are not close friends – more just acquaintances – people who come into my life today and leave tomorrow. I’ve thought I’ve been looking for my tribe, where I ‘belong’. I realize that for now, where I am is where I belong!!! I’m grateful for being able to know reality more often than I used to.

Today all the folks in the park, and some LoW members who live in town, will come here with their potluck dish to add to the turkey that the park is providing. We will gather and stuff ourselves with the bounty that exists when we share. I am grateful for all the hands who were involved in bringing me this sustenance.

The Lakota people have a word that I especially like that expresses gratitude – Pilamaya – thank you.

To the Creator of All Things – Pilamaya.

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