Steeped in Gratitude
As I begin writing, I am sitting in my car outside my house. My two cats are in a pet carrier beside me. The orange tabby is smashed against the back of the carrier. Anytime I put her in the carrier, she makes herself as small as possible, as far back as she can. The calico is sitting up, periodically voicing her discontent or curiosity, or maybe something else, in what can only be described as a squeak. I'm not quite sure when her meows turned into squeaks, but that's what she does. I let her out of the carrier for a few minutes and she explored the car, squeaking all the way. She seems equally (dis)content in the carrier.
After I'd written the above the gas and electric serviceman arrived. Walking through my kitchen earlier in the morning, I'd noticed a gas smell. When I called the gas and electric company, I was asked a series of questions and then told to leave the house until someone came. So my cats and I camped in the car for about 30 minutes.
There was a gas leak from my cool 1950s stove. The serviceman's first words when he figured out what was wrong: "Lowe's is having a sale on appliances." He turned off the gas to the range, stuck a red warning tag on it and a red warning sticker on the connected gas pipe and went on his way. I spent the next few hours researching gas ranges,. I looked for a new one to buy, as well as possibilities for finding a new home for the old I'll be bidding adieu.
I then spent a few hours going through piles of paper. I am really good at making piles, not so good at getting rid of them. In the last few days I've been in a rare purging mode - of papers, of other stuff. I found my high school senior English term paper - it's now the recycling bin, along with many other papers that prompted me to ask myself, "Why would I keep this?" It feels good to clear out space. Space not to put more stuff, but rather space for...life. For living. For moving freely. Clear physical space that may help me to clear the internal space for whatever potential desires to grow in me this year.
New year. Fresh. It was sunny today. This was the first sunny day since I've been back in the country. I think. If there was another, my own mind was still too cloudy to notice it. My mind is still cloudy. Still avoiding doing the work of decluttering all that got tossed around while I was in Palestine.
I ended the day going to a movie and dinner with a friend. Near the end of our dinner, she said, "I'm not asking you about Palestine because I figured you'd talk about it if you wanted to." I've talked to a couple of friends about it, but I am finding it hard to articulate the difficulty of this last stint. I find it particularly hard when people commend me for going or tell me I'm brave, because I know that the real people to be commended are those who live under occupation day in and day out and somehow maintain a sense of dignity, hope, joy, courage. I feel so weighted down from a few weeks of witnessing, and sometimes getting a small taste of, that life. I find it difficult to articulate what made this time different from the two previous stints. I am grateful for my friend's invitation to speak...or not.
Gratitude. That is the overall sense from this day. I hope I will remain firmly planted in gratitude the other 365 days this year. And the 365 after that. And the ones after that.
The blip with the stove this morning served to remind me of what I have:
Two healthy pets.
Electricity that provides light and heat and enables me to do so many things, like write here.
Family and friends who care about me.
Today 17 families in Hebron received the bodies of their loved ones that the Israeli government had been holding indefinitely. I cannot imagine the relief or the grief of those families. I myself felt both. And I feel grateful. Gratitude in knowing that families would get to see their loved ones, now deceased, again. Connections.
The serviceman this morning pointed out of a few of the features of my 100+ year-old home and told me the history of them. Connection.
Messages from friends and time with people (and animals!) I care about. Connection.
2015 brought new people into my life and new opportunities to deepen connections with people who've been around a long time. I am grateful.
I don't know what 2016 will bring.
But I feel certain that it will continue to offer abundant reasons to be grateful.
I hope I pay attention. I hope you do, too.
Blessings as we enter into a new year.