Grateful Solace

All week the idea of this day has rolled through my mind. Thanksgiving, and what it is that gives us such value toward one day out of the calendar. Despite its origins which do give me pause and help me realize we might be thought somewhat arrogant to an indigenous nation we clearly took advantage for our own benefit. The day nonetheless has become a gathering of family, a day over the years that has the promise of memory and laughs and celebration of an identity we have become together.

I can always remind myself of our family meeting one another in my grandmother’s home in Duluth. She and her husband, Granny and Gramps cherished their family in every extent of the word. I know the dining room table that would fit us all with the children in the next room, sitting on as polished oak they could match with the adults sacred space. To make it one day to the main room, the main serving table of Granny’s wonderful meal was a rite of passage for all including myself.

We were raised in the fashion of an Irish tradition, and anyone who walked into the home on 5th avenue, became another Irish descendant the moment they crossed the threshold. My father alone – Papa – of a Norwegian descent was clearly an Irishman that day, embraced by Nana’s parents like a son – a paramount meaning of love that I have wished I might emulate my entire life. I was lucky, we were all lucky to know unconditional love in every aspect of the word.

Today we celebrate Thanksgiving and we must first acknowledge the state of mind a pandemic has placed upon our ability to celebrate together. No matter the circumstance for some of ‘alone’ and all of its impact, we can still with integrity celebrate the meaning of love. Wherever we stand, however we live our lives in distant or near proximity, only one reality matters – kindness.

We are compassionate souls no matter how much we might choose to fight that attribute in any given paradigm of our own position in life. We have experienced those we do cherish who have passed on to their next journey (God bless) and we will hold a chair for them today because memory alone will always keep them close to our heart. We will recognize those of lesser means who today might have a tear or flood of emotion knowing their isolation and hunger will be overlooked by the many that come before and did once share lives together. I don’t speak of myself in that realm, I am a fortunate man.

Today let’s lift our glass to the beauty of life. Let’s look in one another’s eyes and remember that together we have created these moments for many years well beyond our own mortality. Let us be kind and grateful for all of the people that came before and after who created whom we are today.

Let us love with passionate embrace.


© Thom Amundsen  11/2020

This Sunday Morning

We are starting to contemplate what it is we have done this year, one so very unique to our world, our lives, our state of mind. I think we all began the year in much the same way, dealing only with our personal needs and always aware of the world around us. Some of us championed resolutions, a few of us cleaned out chapters of our lives, and many woke up and believed it was just another day in succession of many. Why wouldn’t each of those directions make complete sense as we imagine our day today.

It is Sunday, a day that at the start of the year I had begun returning to Mass after many decades of sporadic holiday attendance, I was liking the opportunity and its meditative balance on my life. Then a few weeks later, I was not. I was not alone. This time it wasn’t because of lack of interest, none of us could. On top of everything else in our lives, we were now asked, suggested, mandated to isolate ourselves for the safety of others. I remember in the early weeks of shelter at home, I would run off to the grocery store, a limited activity, and as the sun was setting in the west, I would look at the horizon and imagine zombies beginning to line the hills. Everything was so quiet, no one except for people like me getting groceries or essentials milled about. The moment was eery and unsettling.

Eight months later, I have become a rather good cook. I seldom would make meals in years past, except for the occasional breakfast, or an intriguing recipe, or holiday foods. In the last year though, I used to want to emphasize I hadn’t gone out to eat for weeks, turned into months. But then I had to come to terms with the fact that no one had. When I get out of rehearsals for high school theater, I would often stop for a bite to eat. Now those little moments were part of my grocery run. I’ll call it a win, because the food is better and the advantage is a healthier body.

This summer I needed to go outside. Thankfully we have the woods, the hiking trails and just the open country for walks and bicycle rides. I remember thinking in the early days of Covid19 what if someone a quarter of mile in front of me sneezed while I was bicycling into a head wind? That really went through my mind, much like taking my dog to the dog park and worrying about other people wanting to pet him, and thereby bringing their germs into my home. Nobody knew, some of us cared, some thought it was and still do believe it a hoax. I’ve seen the numbers of people who have died, not by choice. I have been a believer from the beginning.

Our lives are all unique and yet we live them quite similarly to one another. We need a good sleep, a warm meal, a favorite book or piece of music, a companion nearby. All of this sounds rather normal right? The thing to recognize is there are many that do not have all or any of the opportunities or lifestyle habits I just mentioned. There are people who are alone and haven’t sometimes the strength to endure this rather unprecedented and certainly sad and frightening time in our lives. This is a time of year when often we are suggested to raise our awareness of those less fortunate than ourselves. Now more than ever.

We do come upon that time of year in America where we will celebrate the holiday, the essence of family being together to share the love we all have created in our lives. Many question our ability to have feast in that manner of tradition and we find ourselves quietly confused, making different plans. We do come upon that time of year in the world where we celebrate the truth of universal love in however manner our cultural strengths bring us together. What is important is we do remain focused on what will alleviate some of the anxiety and disorientating nature of this temporary period of our lives. Acts of kindness and a simple element exist.

There really isn’t anything traditional about this year moving into the holidays except for perhaps one common denominator: Love. We all know kindness and the smile it puts on our face, the safe remedy an emotion provides our need to feel.

This is a Sunday morning, and I am in my comfortable chair with a favorite music playing, my dog wandering about checking on me thinking of his next walk in the coming hour. I’m sipping my coffee and looking forward to watching a ball game this afternoon. Tonight I will plan the week ahead. Life remains normal as long as we can allow ourselves to realize there is goodness during this temporary period of our lives. Though we must be conscious of the reality being we are not alone, all of us in our circumstance hold an energy lets us know we are together miles away or nearby.

When we can, as long as we are able, reach out, for there is something substantial being passed upon one another than simply memory not realized. We all exist together, kindness and love being symbolic of that grateful nature of our humanity. We can this year celebrate with an even stronger recognition than during a normalcy we haven’t known yet taken for granted for quite some time.

Love. Be Kind.


© Thom Amundsen  11/2020

When ‘Giving Thanks’ Struggles

I am experiencing an internalized state of mind this Thanksgiving. I’ve been looking at this page for an hour or so trying to figure out how to begin my annual Thanksgiving message for my blog. Occasionally the message rings strong and I publish it further, but today, in my head, deep in my head, I’m wondering what message I could possibly provide that suggests giving thanks.

Right now I am not in a thankful state of mind and it truly hurts my heart. I’m wondering why, though deep down I think the answer is quite apparent. The answer is in my head and it seems that’s where I want it to stay. Given that mindset, how can any message come out of this rant that offers any redeeming value toward the nature of giving thanks in my life? I think the solution can only be finding a way to remove myself from the equation and put that focus on the world around me.

In order to do that I need to step out of my head. I look outside my window to see a beautiful day. I can see winter coming, the changing of seasons, the new experiences that lay ahead, and I can blend all those moments into one and be thankful I am able to react to the wonder of our lives with a smile. That alone is possible. Alone it is that simple. Moving beyond the selfish and realizing the world around us is more important than ourselves is the meaning of Thanksgiving.

Sometimes, that belief is difficult to carry out. We can always find reasons to complain, to wonder, to speculate to such a degree that we no longer see the good in the world around us. But again, that is such a waste of valuable energy. Finding the ability to turn that around and be thankful without need for personal validation is the key. So here goes.

I am thankful today I can be with my family and we can celebrate another day of sharing time and conversation and fill our belly with delicious traditional foods. I am thankful I live in a world where I can find immediate freedom walking out my front door without worry of impingement upon my peace of mind. I am thankful to have shelter, to know compassion, to recognize love, to be alive. I am thankful that rather than focus upon the immediacy of my life, I can view a world outside that does allow everyone to be included, that love is a common denominator in a society that sometimes forgets the meaning of caring for one another. I am thankful that I have the ability to try.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in a position to celebrate this holiday. Peace.

 

In My Country

We have this tradition

in place

whereby our satisfaction

is the chase;

is built around certain

achievement –

a lifestyle some acclaim

entitlement.

~

When I was a young man

we gathered lives,

in a single room was the plan

celebrating  our tribes.

Well I was told the story any-

way to appease

my gentle mind beyond the many

matters of tease

meant only to satisfy our need

to celebrate each

other in manner one might heed

if asked to somehow teach.

~

Tonight I struggle for forgiveness

not knowing for what

yet full aware own goodness

keeps insanity driven shut

out from our interior, where the rain

of circumstantial

unraveling of the mind is insane.

i look to your world

if when you do cry, do you remain

are you often twirled

on a merry-go-round like a child shy.

~

We will give thanks to our world in tomorrow’s dance

always clueless to that circumstantial evidence.

 

Remind Me Again

All week we let words travel through our mind

when memory’s cadence might help remind

us to recognize together again

the bounty of peace, just how life began.

Help us to recall we were not the first

‘people’ to inherit the world we thirst

upon with every ounce of jealous need.

Allow the truth to safely now impede

our celebrations, feasts of gluttony

while only steps away cry agony.

Lest we forget the ‘others’ that suffer.

In today’s heartfelt warm embrace together

give pause to help restore spirits doubtful,

menus of love – delicious, delightful.

The Darker Reality

 

In America,

We celebrate with a feast

All of our lives

Are wrapped together

In a few hours of dinner celebration

~

In America,

Someone is crying

Alone

Away from the eyes they hide their pain

Hungry

~

In America,

We drive fine vehicles

Wear designer gowns

Winding black ties on our collars

While sipping fine wines

~

In America,

The winds are biting

As a cardboard shelter

Provides little security

The hours creep slowly again

~

In America,

We will shop in droves

Just after midnight

And while a needy soul

Lays nearby, we’ll boast about

Our tent outside of Best Buy

~

In America,

Our lives are no different

In America we love freedom

On Thanksgiving night

In America … pray for us all

This Gathering

I am grateful

To recall the memories

Children running through rooms

A gathering of family

Hopping over the ankles

Brushing shoulders

Quick smiles as we flit by each

Relative that stood in our way

~

I grew up believing the aroma

Baking, basting, tasting

Always a natural consequence

Of gathering loved ones

While the care in the kitchen

Symbolic of love and festivity

Would offer purpose to the

Acceptable gluttony of spirits

~

If I were to name you

I’d feel compelled to recall

Everyone that touched me

When gathering I had no clue

How your love would remain

Close to my heart today

On this morning when I ready

My family to celebrate together

~

I believe then I am wondering

How to include everyone

My memories are vivid

Always a gathering with effort

To recognize each individual

Belonging together in heart and soul

Without exclusion on this day

An occasional stranger appeared … love

~

When I celebrate memory

I feel certain emptiness stir

Becomes an anxiety I fear

A gathering of lonely and heartsick

Souls wishing for a warm fire

A soft blanket to shelter exposure

I will pray for them in my own way

That peace in God’s eyes may occur

~

Glance outside and the sunlight’s beauty

Lights a blessed gathering of souls todayfamily-gathering