15 December 2008

"let me paint a thank-you on my palm"

“Welcome Morning” ~ Anne Sexton

There is joy
in all:
in the hair I brush each morning,
in the Cannon towel, newly washed,
that I rub my body with each morning,
in the chapel of eggs I cook
each morning,
in the outcry from the kettle
that heats my coffee
each morning,
in the spoon and the chair
that cry "hello there, Anne"
each morning
in the godhead of the table
that I set my silver plate, cup upon
each morning.

All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
each morning
and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.

So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.

The Joy isn't shared, I've heard,
dies young.

* * *

This is one of my favorite poems by Anne Sexton. Too often, I feel like I forget to remember to be thankful. Of course, I am always thankful for those big things that are undeniable: a family who loves me in their own quirky, dysfunctional way; a community of friends, classmates, co-workers and mentors who allow me to rest in the security and comfort that comes when you are truly known by someone. But what about all the little things, that I often overlook, that make up a great day? This idea of painting a thank-you on my palm has begun to surface in my mind whenever I am having a day when I forget to be thankful. The image of putting it there, right where will I will always see it and always think to be thankful for all that my hands touch (both figuratively and literally, or course!) is just so beautiful and simple and perfect. So in honor of Ms. Sexton’s great idea, I am going to share five little things I am thankful for – one for each of my fingers – with the hope that I can share my joy before it “dies young”:

Pinkie: I love my bed. It is big and soft and perfect…and I got it for free! I love that I have a fleece blanket under my sheets, and I love that I have a comforter under my comforter. I love its position in my room – right next to my window – so on those rare mornings when I get to sleep in the sun wakes me up in the most gentle way, as if to say “Good Morning. Welcome to the world today, I hope you find joy in every aspect.”

Ring Finger: I am thankful for my colorful scarves. There is something so comforting about having a piece of soft, warm fabric wrapped or knotted loosely around my neck. I love how bright they are and that no matter how I am feeling in the morning, a scarf makes me feel safer, happier, more confident in the day. Adding a splash of color to my day makes everything seem just a bit brighter. It is almost like the security blanket I had growing up has become more mature and sophisticated and has evolved to a fashionable neck accessory…I just feel a little more protected and a little more sure of myself.

Middle Finger: I am thankful for the “shuffle songs” button on my iPod. Since I know and love all the 7,000+ songs on my iPod, I appreciate the small surprise that comes with each new song. It takes me from my middle-school-N’Sync years (yes, I have N’Sync on my iPod…and I am not ashamed!) to classic study music. It takes me from Dashboard Confessional to Bob Dylan. It takes me from Nick Drake to Ingrid Michaelson. In the way that people often link their memories to certain smells, I often associate a specific song with a specific experience or period of time in my life, so I can journey through a dozen different emotions and memories with the push of one little button.

Pointer Finger: I love seeing the little aspects of life that I miss if I don’t look hard enough. People watching, looking up at the sky, watching the rain drops fall on the leaves outside my bedroom window. I am so thankful that I am learning how to pay attention and observe all the life that surrounds me. It is usually those moments when we think no one is watching that we are the most authentically ourselves…and I love catching people in those moments. When I see those things that are so easy to overlook it makes me feel like I have a secret with nature; like a little piece of the world is hidden to everyone and everything except me.

Thumb: I am thankful for my oddly shaped bookcase. It is narrow and tall and looks like it might fall over at any moment. I am thankful for all the books I have lovingly (and with a little touch of OCD) arranged by genre. I love that my bookcase (that is so dark brown it almost looks black) holds all the knowledge and beauty and love that is found in books of literature, history, poetry. Words on paper often speak more to me than anything spoken, and it is this wonderful bookcase in the corner of my room that holds those words that can inspire me, challenge me, and give me hope. They are my best friends who never fail me, and for that, I am incredibly grateful that I have my bookcase to hold them and protect them.

So while I think of it,
let me paint a thank-you on my palm
for this God, this laughter of the morning,
lest it go unspoken.

The Joy isn't shared, I've heard,
dies young.


Becca said...

Carrie! There is so much of you that is unseen, but revealed in your writing. As I read through your blogs, especially this one, I feel like I'm getting to know you all over again. I rediscover why we are friends and how we will always relate to one another. While we may be very different people, we hold so many similar things close to our heart...the little things you are thankful for make me smile! You make me smile! Our friendship makes me smile! Your spirit is beautiful and I'm honored to be your friend and that you would share part of yourself with me. I love you, Miss Carrie Elizabeth Horten! Never forget that.

merepo said...

This is such a reassuring piece of work to read and especially what you have learned from it. It is so hard during the holiday season to not get caught up in the "bigger is better" and the "I need more" mentality. We start to think about the presents we want, an Ipod, some sweet black boots, and so on, but we forget the little things in life. The fact that we are able to come together with family and celebrate and have a great meal on the table and so on. Your list was truly beautiful as well. Just the small little joys in life that make you who you are. thank you for sharing it so much my dear! I love and miss you tons!

Welch's said...

I absolutely loved reading this my dear