I am sooo full! These words are common this time of year, expected even. Families sit around tables laden with food, the traditional dishes of generations are laid out before us. If their recipes don the table, somehow our grandmothers are there, too. The more matriarchs die, the bigger the feast. Honestly, my foremothers would be thrilled to be included, to be a part of our family gathering year after year. And we would be kind of lost without those dishes, because they represent our loved ones and make it feel as if they are still a part, no matter how many years they have been gone.
This year the holidays will be different for many of us. Like so many other changes, our gathering together will suffer under the cloud of covid. Our family crowds will be minimal, our feasts more like regular-sized meals. We will have to pick and choose which grandmother’s recipes to include because there will not be enough people to eat the dishes if we make them all. We will zoom with family members throughout the day to share and talk. It isn’t the same as being present together in the same space, but we will make the best of it.
So then, why am I so full? I am not full of food; I am full of thanks. Being thankful helps me to combat the heaviness of the pandemic. It changes my focus from the difficult times to more hopeful ones. The truth is changing focus requires being intentional, but it doesn’t take long. I have so much to be grateful for the mental switch is quick.
I lost my job, but I found three new ones. We lost Bill’s dad, but my parents are still with us. We have a home. We have food. We have grown children who are happy, even if we cannot be together. I can’t travel to faraway places anymore, but I have friends all over the world. I am still a cancer survivor, and I am still cancer free after all these years.
The mountains have not fallen into the sea, they are still all around me, keeping watch in their steadfast way. The trees are still raising their arms to worship, no matter if they are full of leaves or bare. The rivers still shout their praises, just as the wind still whispers. The birds make a joyful noise for their nests and the squirrels chatter their thanks for the acorns. They all know realities that I tend to forget.
All around me are signs that there are greater truths than the circumstantial moments which fill my anxious brain. These truths are more solid and real than any temporary virus; they will stand long after the virus is gone. If God is for me, who can be against me? Nothing separates me from his love. Not a pandemic. Not an election. Not discord, dissension, or division. Not even being separated from loved ones, can separate me from his love. He takes care of the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, so I know he will take care of me. And if I know he provides and cares, how can I not be grateful? The question is, do I REALLY know it, or do I just give lip service to his promises without believing them?
This year, I am choosing to load up my plate with thanks. I am choosing to believe his words to me. Even in the midst of a pandemic, I am choosing to focus on all that I have been given. I will host my small little gathering with gratefulness to be alive in this historic time. I am choosing to honor my foremothers by focusing on the bites of truth they taught me rather than on the food they prepared. Most of all, I am choosing to feast on God’s promises. I am soooo full!