On Thursday, we said thank you around the table.
We passed the big bowl with potatoes like mountain peaks. We passed the medium-sized bowl with its cranberry jewels. We passed the tiny, wooden bowl. Three times we passed that particular bowl, and three times we tipped in our little kernels of corn. With each kernel came a thank you.
I said thank you for friends, and books, and old maple trees. The little boy said thank you for toys. The bigger boy said thank you for Jesus.
And so we entered Advent on a tidal wave of gratitude, every thank you deeply meant.
But now it is so dark, and gratitude has slipped through my fingers.
Every good gift from this past year seems to have its tarnished edge, and I am weary. Weary of sifting good from bad, blessing from burden.
This old farmhouse is a promise fulfilled. We wandered, but He brought us home. But … the pipes leak, too many old maples were lost in a storm, and this is farming country – some days I can’t breathe for the manure in the air.
The baby is a good and perfect gift. Beautiful. Much loved. With her came depression. Two months of panic and tears. Now I tremble remembering those days and pray God, don’t let that darkness ever come back. And my heart is broken for all who live within that fog for years.
So many dreams are coming true, but they are being realized in dust and dirt and darkness. And some part of me knows the bigger story. It begins in a stable but ends with streets of gold.
There are no streets of gold in my neighborhood. There’s a diaper pail. A filthy chicken coop. Kitchen scraps left to rot.
But I am done with sifting.
Done trying to untangle the knots of good and bad, done naming one thing a gift, another a curse.
I am dust myself, but I breathe with God’s own breath, and I am using that breath to say thank you.
Thank you for all of it.
The mess. The smell. The compost under my nails, and the dishes in the sink.
I say thank you because our God has never despised the dirt, and he once wrapped himself in dust.
He is our God with dirt under his nails, and he is near.
God with us.