Posted by on Nov 28, 2011 in Reflections | 8 comments

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What the Living Do

by Marie Howe

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won't work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven't called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It's winter again: the sky's a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

the open living-room windows because the heat's on too high in here and I can't turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,

I've been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss — we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I'm gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I'm speechless:
I am living. I remember you.


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I am grateful for the work I have cut out for me today: The counter full of dishes cemented with black bean soup, my guest's dirty bed sheets, for the mundane grind that, if I don't watch it, can have me longing for more than what I've got. I am grateful for these tangible evidences of my living, breathing, eternal relationships with other human beings –  the nourishing/messy ramifications of loving imperfectly my family, friends and neighbors. 


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 I'm grateful gratitude turns logic on its head, muffles anxiety, thwarts whining and apathy. And I'm grateful for my inability to conjure up gratitude all by my lonesome. What keeps me praying, begging, for wisdom and mercy is what will ultimately save me (Oh that is so hard to swallow). I'm grateful gratitude abides in the now; it's too tiring to dwell on tomorrow. Right now I'm healthy, now I'm warm, now my belly's full, now I'm free to either choose thankfulness via the diligent stewardship of my many blessings or half-living via slothfulness and habitual dissatisfaction. 


This cold, gray, sleepy Monday is the day the Lord has made. I will, I will, I will pull my head out of the sand and implore Him to help me rejoice in it. 


Do you have a photo or reflection on gratitude to share? Please link to your site in the comment section below. Next week's The Way I See It theme will be: Saint Nicholas