Thursday, November 22, 2012


The post card greeting was sent to my grandmother, Jessie, about 1900 (postmark is blurred) by her neice, Ida, then living on a remote ranch in the Dakotas and longing for Thanksgivings past in Lucas and Appanoose counties.

There's a lot of that going around still --- longing for the past, embellishing, romanticizing, sweeping inconvenient Thanksgiving truths under holiday tables.

And relational thanksgivings, too --- there but for the grace of God, you know. Which miss the point.

Still, there's power in this holiday of ours, expressed here by contemporary poet Bruce Weigl:

I didn't know I was grateful
for such late-autumn
bent-up cornfields

yellow in the after-harvest
sun before the
cold plow turns it all over

into never.
I didn't know
I would enter this music

that translates the world
back into dirt fields
that have always called to me

as if I were a thing
come from the dirt,
like a tuber,

or like a needful boy. End
Lonely days, I believe. End the exiled
and unraveling strangeness.

And hope, which may be the secret power: That there's still time, as Langston Hughes put it, to create the America "that never has been yet."

O, let America be America again —
The land that never has been yet —
And yet must be — the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine — the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

(from "Let America Be America Again")

I'm optimistic, and grateful.

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