A second Thanksgiving is on its way. The first was our Canadian holiday on the second Monday of October. The second, the American holiday, arrives this week on the 4th Thursday of November.
I find myself embracing another reminder to contemplate gratitude, a source of solace when loss rears its head. I may be declining in some ways, but my mind is still intact, I am still active, I am free of chronic pain. I was born after two world wars in a peaceful part of the globe with clean tap water, indoor plumbing, ample electricity, fresh food, access to medical care, a public school system and much more. My childhood may not have been perfect but my parents were good responsible people. I was born with and retain the capacity to love, to breathe, to hope for another day. Today my glass is more than half full.
I stand on the deck to keep Diesel company while he performs his outdoor rituals. In the sun the air is just above freezing—almost warm. I am there with slippers on, my usual busyness on pause. At this moment there will be no running out to fill the bird feeder or shovel snow away from the wooden steps.
On the first day of the fourth moon, climbed to visit the shrines on a mountain once called Two Wildernesses, renamed by Kukai when he dedicated the shrine. Perhaps he saw a thousand years into the future, this shrine under sacred skies, his compassion endlessly scattered through the eight directions, falling equally, peacably, on all four classes of people. The greater the glory, the less these words can say.
these budding green spring leaves
in blazing sunlight
Basho, “Narrow Road to the Interior.” translated by Sam Hamill, The Essential Basho, p. 5