(Disclaimer- Thought it’s never good practice as a writer to open a missive with a caveat, seasoned followers of The Write Project should be aware that this here post is a re-run, kind of like the way ABC trots out Charlie Brown’s Great Pumpkin year after year. Enjoy)
One of the difficult challenges of a writer is to create angles, novel ways of looking at the world that cast the events of this grand drama of life in a glorious new light. Anais Nin once said, “The role of the writer is not to say what we can all say but what we are unable to say.” It’s both the lure and the burden of anyone who chooses to click keys in an effort to write a few true sentences.
The challenge becomes stiffer when holidays roll around. When the collective chorus of the world swells louder and bolder, it’s difficult to make one’s lone voice be heard. Walt Whitman explained that one of the good things in life is that “the powerful play goes on and you will contribute a verse.” Adding my own Thanksgiving blog verse has proved challenging.
I’ve thought of writing about the overdone (all the good things I’m thankful for), the difficult (all the “bad” things I’m thankful for), the instructive (how to properly cultivate a grateful heart), and the dramatic (the tale of Norman, the one-eyed Pilgrim with a heart of gold and a gimpy leg). The result has been fewer words than it takes to fill a gravestone.
It’s a problem similar to the one that my dad faced as a young pastor. When the calendar flipped toward November and December, he struggled with how to spin Thanksgiving or Christmas in novel ways, with how to get the parishioners to contemplate Christ with new eyes each year. He labored in that regard when a mentor preacher gave him wise advice: Tell the story. Simply tell the story. Rather than toiling to make it all new, let them revel in the old, old story, for “those who know it best seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.”
Such a revelation changed his approach to holidays and maybe that advice is instructive for me as well. Maybe the proper approach for a Thanksgiving-themed blog post is not sparkling words of wit and creativity, but rather the same words that all grateful hearts utter, “Thank you.” Maybe it’s not about spinning the attitude of gratitude in poetic fashion, but rather speaking gratitude with true passion.
In fact, maybe this holiday is not really about being thankful for a thousand different things, but rather being thankful for the same things a thousand times. When my kids offer unprompted appreciation for something they’re given, they can use the same words a million times over before it would ever grow stale.
Maybe it’s the same thing with God. The words of thanks, however they might be expressed, are beautiful simply in the deliberate act of uttering them.
Maybe Whitman was right. There’s beauty in each of the verses that we contribute to the song of life, even if during certain seasons, they’re pretty identical to one another. And maybe on a day like Thanksgiving, the whole chorus of humankind sings in unison with the same words and heaven resounds with that delightful melody.
And no amount of spin can make that any more beautiful than it already is.
Peace, love and thanksgiving . . . from The Write Project.