We are stepping off of, what feels like, a summer train gone crazy. The family and I are just beginning the recuperation of four weeks spent with family and friends who span nine generations and six states. And I want to take a moment to give thanks for all, because we are blessed beyond measure to be a part of who they are.
When the Husband and I stood together in a mum filled church with generations of souls seated in pews on both sides of the aisle, we first began to see what a “blended” family might look like. Now, fourteen plus years later, we still move, arm-in-arm, through the maze of them. Hearing stories, sharing food and kin alike, and meeting faces for the first time that belong to us.
The morning is dark with storm clouds mastering the skies and it causes my mind and body to slow. So with rain washing the dirt, thunder commanding control, and a show of pure light dancing, I tap out thanks for all that has been. And maybe that should be my first thanks, the water that makes all things new. Life giving water to a parched earth.
I listen to the sounds of young voices playing in an imaginary world known only to cousins, and I am thankful.
I smell the aroma of blackberries and sugar boiling into jam, and I am thankful.
I touch the tiny form of a new niece with soft skin and small cries, and I am thankful.
I sleep on a bed belonging to friends known so long we share enough history to be called family. Who willingly sleep in the basement so we can share morning light together, and I am thankful.
I curl into a ball in an overstuffed chair touching knees and stories with a girlfriend who has traveled half way across the country to knit our lives together in a twenty-four hour period, because sometimes that’s all the time we’ve got, and I open my soul wide, knowing time ticks and I don’t know when we’ll meet again, but I am so thankful for the NOW.
I listen to stories of an Aunt’s adoption, and how she has adopted, and I tuck them away in my heart, knowing I may need them some day, and I am thankful.
I watch Husband and two brother-in-laws work in the barn, scrubbing away years of dirt from old barn possibilities to shape something ragged into something beautiful, and I am thankful.
I feel the eyes of four small souls as I read them the real story of Esther the Queen from the true Word, their only sounds an occasional gasp connected to raised eyebrows and their posture on the edge of their seats, because what little girl doesn’t dream of being Queen, and I am thankful.
I let my fingers splay across the sky as I reach for the clothes line now needed to dry sheets, towels, and clothes from a family of four, and I am thankful even though the dryer is broken and there are nine of the twenty-six people already here for family events, because I have a husband who runs for clothes line, and a brother-in-law willing to string it between trees, and my work doesn’t have to stop, it just has to change direction, and I am thankful.
I taste the sweet chocolate topped peanut butter cookie and catch the eye of Husband’s ninety-seven year old grandmother, who I call my own, and who can still cook, bake, and travel five hours to spend the week with us, and I am thankful.
I stand beside my Dad, now alone, in a warehouse filled to the ceiling with old books and we talk history, both of us caressing the worn bindings, and I am thankful.
My fingers trace the fabric of our daughters first outfit and I whisper the story of her micro beginning to those whom we’ve just met, a story not told in a long time, and tears threaten, but courage forces its way through, and they are supportive, and I am so thankful.
And when a little red flashlight shines in my eyes in the middle of the night, I am thankful, because a small boy needs to be close to his Mama and Daddy for a bit longer. Something that will disappear all too soon.
All this and so much more, and I find myself purely thankful.