Monday, November 22, 2021

It was November

photo credit: unknown


It was November - the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the sea, passionate wind-songs in the pines.  Anne roamed through the pineland alleys in the park and, as she said, let that sweeping wind blow the fogs out of her soul.   - Lucy Maud Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

The full November twilight had fallen around Green Gables, and the only light in the kitchen came from the dancing red flames in the stove.  Anne was gazing into the joyous glow where the sunshine of a 100 summers was being distilled from the maple cordwood.  - Lucy Maud Montgomery

While Anne is famous for her "I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers", I take delight in living in a world where there are Novembers.  A month of little teases of winter, the cold mornings where you see your breath.  The autumn colors paint the trees and the wind blows a shower of leaves.  The month of counting blessings and families gather to share a meal of Thanksgiving.

The pandemic of 2020 stripped the gathering part of this tradition across our nation.  Our table was set for only four and we gave thanks with a hope that this would surely end soon.  We were vigilant in staying safe from this infamous virus.  Days were long.  Staying home was hard and almost felt unbearable.    Empty chairs haunted my heart as I served that year's meal.  I missed the hugs and family outnumbering the chairs around the table.  Giving thanks among the longing is sobering.  We had escaped the virus thus far, we had an abundance of food as I learned to stock for the emergency, and we have never run out of toilet paper.  We live in a time period where church wasn't in a building,  but in our home, streaming live over the internet.  The days were slow and beautiful and although I've always felt like I belonged in different century, I am truly grateful for the virtual connection we now have in comparison to past times.


This year has continued to carry some remnants of the previous year.  We've all been changed.  People look different with masked faces and eyes of fear if you get too close or cough or sneeze.  Hand sanitizers greet you everywhere.  Quarantine became a common household event.  Mandates force people to choose between food and shelter or standing within your beliefs.  The lingering virus reared its ugly presence in nearly all our nearby family.  We learned creative ways to help without contact, and we lived the horror of a little one battling for her life in the PICU and witnessed the answer to prayers as she miraculously recovered.   We traveled across the country by car, taking every precaution and felt the familiar freedom we had been missing in outdoor spaces and truly perfect weather.  We savored an Arkansas rainfall and went on an alligator hunt in Florida.  We saw each state we crossed, handling the pandemic so differently.  We met with dear friends and family and slowly life was returning to a new form of normalcy.


But despite all our efforts, the virus made its way into our home in late summer.  Post trauma loomed like a grey heavy cloud, as we waited to see how it would affect the rest of us.  Learning to practice faith over fear, was tangible.  Just as unknown as the virus is, only one in our household was sick.  And only that one ever tested positive and suffered the fever, loss of smell, congestion, and a slight cough.  The rest of us repeatedly tested negative.   We feel spared, but yet, remain cautious because we know the other side of this, too.


As I plan for Thanksgiving this last week in November, I have much to give thanks, but my heart is somber.   I know there is so much unrest.  All conversations always seem to spiral back around this pandemic:  government control, vaccine status, rising costs, and the empty spaces on the grocery store shelves.  Among all the continued supply shortages, we were able to buy a turkey after two attempts,  and found most of the ingredients for our usual side dishes and pies.  Any empty chair this year seems so trivial compared to the empty hole of losing our neighbor and a nephew or the heartbreaking divisiveness and separation among family on political or medical topics.  The real division being spiritual. 

Our older children have their own growing families and time is now shared and our tradition is changing.  I am full of mixed emotions.  I am grateful.  I am rooted in faith.  I miss the days where I didn't know some of things I do now.   Oh, that sweet innocence of childhood is long gone.  Always though, it was and is the Novembers, my steady tradition,  that I continue to choose to reflect with humility, pause to give thanks while I seek a handful of quietness for my soul.

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