“The Long View of Giving Thanks,” column for nov. 19, 2013

They say farsightedness is one of those gifts that tends to come with age. Maybe so.

In life or landscapes, in vision or vistas, whenever possible, I like to take the long view.

For six weeks, I’ve been alone on a lake in the mountains where I grew up, watching fall work its magic outdoors, while I try to work indoors on a book.

I wish you could see it.

The lake, not the book, though I hope in time you’ll see it, too.

My desk sits at a window, where I can look down into the water, as if on a boat, or far off at the horizon, as if on the back of a really big bird, to where the lake flows into the next basin.

The view, if spectacular, is ridiculously distracting, with all manner of leaves and birds and fish and beauty screaming for my attention. If I had any sense, I would move my desk to some visually quieter location, maybe in the boathouse or under a bed.

But here I sit staring at leaves so red they look like flames, and flocks of birds that scatter like a fistful of pepper tossed in the air, and fish that swim up to look at me, as if to ask when I’m coming out to feed them.

The last few days put a damper on the view, as rain began to fall and a mist rolled in, muting colors, swallowing images, softening sounds.

I got a lot of work done.

At one point, I took a break and went out on the porch to sit in the rocker and close my eyes and smell the rain and listen to the drumming on the tin roof.

As breaks go, on a 10-scale, I’d give it a 12.

Just as I started back inside, the clouds thinned, and I saw the sun come swimming up from the bottom of the lake. I’ve seen it dance a thousand times on the lake. This was the first time I saw it dance underwater.

While I stood there, looking down, I noticed something falling up at me, a tiny speck moving like a baseball in slow motion. As it grew closer, it started spinning, taking on a new shape like a star.

I didn’t realize what it was until it quit coming toward me and suddenly stopped, just to float on the water.

A maple leaf. What I had seen, of course, was its reflection, as it fell from somewhere far above me all the way down to the lake.

It made me laugh out loud in wonder and surprise, startling birds and frightening fish and feeling happy.

I could’ve sworn that leaf was falling up at me. But things are not always as they seem. It’s all a matter of perspective.

In three days, I will leave the lake to take some time off from writing, to go home and see if my husband remembers me, and spend a week in California, celebrating Thanksgiving with our children and grandchildren and family-like friends.

As always, I will set two Thanksgiving tables for all the people I hold dear: One in my dining room (actually, my daughter’s dining room this time) for those who’ll be with us; and one in my heart for those who will not.

I’ll save a place for you at that second table. Really. You don’t need to bring a thing.

I hope your life, like mine, is so full of goodness and grace that when you try to count your blessings you’ll have to keep borrowing fingers and toes.

Gratitude is the ultimate long view. It looks beyond the clatter of the moment and the tyranny of the urgent and the temporary setbacks in life — the hurts and fears, loss and disappointment that can seem to go on forever.

Instead, it shows us the sun swimming up from the depths of a lake and a leaf falling down from heaven.

Gratitude opens the eyes of the heart to see in the distance what is real and what is true.

Please know I am always thankful for your readership and especially your friendship.

Here’s wishing you and yours a grateful Thanksgiving.

Comments

  1. Shirley Thacker says:

    Thank you for taking me away, to enjoy your past, your family. Our local, Muncie StarPress, no longer carries your column in their Sunday paper. I am saddened by that. . . but I will continue to search your articles. Thank you for being my mentor.
    Shirley Thacker

  2. Kate Sciacca says:

    Many thanks to you for the gift of your words every week. Enjoyed this column after Thanksgiving this year… Another year to thank God for 8 healthy kids, , 3 awesome daughters-in-law and 1 son-in-law and 8 grandkids who are (I’m sorry) the cutest grandkids ever conceived! :-)
    Many blessings to you and your family in this expectant season of Advent, may your joy be full this year :-)

  3. weldon says:

    happy thanksgiving Sharon

  4. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family as well, Sharon.

    Grace and peace,

    Bruce

  5. Jo says:

    Thankful for your columns each week, they are bright spots in my life. Just knowing they are there gave me something to look forward to, while my husband was sick. Even now, reading them means a place of relaxation and a moment to enjoy. Something most of us need.

    ~Blessings this Thanksgiving and always~

  6. A beautiful cousin named Sandy sent this beautiful writing of yours. It made me feel wonderful, relaxed and very peacefully in touch with the beauty of our Earth. Thank you for sharing your thoughts….

  7. vicki hamrick says:

    Wonderful article, as always Sharon! I wish you and your family a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving and Christmas! Thank you for the chair at your second table; that’s a wonderful idea!

    Sincerely,
    Vicki

  8. sandy silveira says:

    Wishing the very same to you and yours….eternal blessings…

  9. Marie Disselhorst says:

    Happy Thanksgiving to you. I love your writings.

  10. Jude Fricano says:

    Sharon,
    One of your Thanksgiving columns from about twenty years ago is part of my Thanksgiving tradition. I post it each year on my family blog (with a link to your website giving you all the credit :) to remind each reader the wisdom you’ve provided us for so many Thanksgivings now. And I even read it out loud after the blessing for as many years as my family would allow!

    I carried a tattered copy of the original column in my big oversized wallet for over a decade. It survived many moves, a divorce, a remarriage, more moves, death of parents and the birth of our amazing daughter.

    I thank you for continuing to remind me, and allowing me to share your wisdom with my Thanksgiving family that this is the best Thanksgiving ever. Not the best turkey ever. Because this Thanksgiving is truly the only one that matters!

    I consider myself thankful each year for you and your reminder about what to focus on, while enjoying the blessing of family.

    Wishing you a peaceful Thanksgiving this year!

  11. Peggy Myers says:

    Dear Sharon,
    I was first introduced to your column a couple years ago while visiting my Mother in Texas. Her name is also Sharon. It’s a good name. It speaks to me of love and wisdom, of laughter and some tears, and of long heart to heart talks about friends, family, and God.

    Your writing has a way of stirring the soul. Your words paint pictures across the canvas of my mind, I only wish I could frame the art and hang it on my wall. For, I see the lake and it is beautiful and peaceful and vibrant with life and color.

    I love your articles and I am looking forward to reading your book. I too am writing a book and you encourage me to keep going. I have no idea what I am doing or if the book will even be read. All I know is, God has put it in my heart and He wants me to put it on paper. I can only obey, although at times, I’d rather plug my ears and sing, “La la la la la” really loud. But it doesn’t work that way with God. He speaks from deep inside the heart. He is speaking through you and using you to touch so many lives, including mine. Your words matter. You are a blessing and I am thankful for you.

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