Giving Thanks

Jena Strong of More Joy, Less Oy is one of my favorite writers out there.  She writes gorgeously – richly, luminously, heartbreakingly honestly – of her path, which has included some unanticipated switchbacks, of her continued efforts to live an authentic, engaged, truthful life, of her girls, her faith, her open-eyed wonder at this world.

Jena’s writing regularly makes me weep.  Her words, frankly as much as anyone’s, burrow deep into my soul and take up residence there.  I find myself thinking about what she has written long after I’ve read it.  Go check out her blog; I’m certain that you will fall into the rich, brave, courageous world there as I have.

When I thought about people who write about trust, broadly defined, I thought immediately of Jena.  Her writing, in my opinion, is all about this: trusting our journey, trusting ourselves, trusting the universe.  Just plain trusting, in the ways that I so deeply, fiercely aspire to do.  I asked her to share some of her thoughts on trust with me, and with you.

I love these lines that follow, because they evince the fundamental, heartfelt gratitude that sweeps over me regularly.  And I don’t know that I can quite articulate why, yet, but I think there’s a complicated but essential link between gratitude and trust.  I think one allows room for the other,  like someone holding the window open to let the light in.

Without further ado, here are Jena’s words.  Please read, enjoy, and then go enjoy the beauty at More Joy, Less Oy.  Jena, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts here.  It is an immense honor.


Giving Thanks

She who knows the path is she who travels it. – Zulu Proverb

Because yesterday a tornado ripped through Western Mass
and “there aren’t supposed to be tornadoes in New England”

Because tonight a naked five-year old choreographed a dance
and taught it to me so patiently

Because my middle sister huddled in a basement with her staff
then drove her car filled with shattered glass home to her family

Because after the storm my other sister gave me peonies
from her garden that now sit in a drinking glass on the sill

Because my beautiful daughter cried herself to sleep
missing the camaraderie of the cast of her recent play

and because nothing I said could touch her aching
I could only lie next to her, still and breathing

Because at this time of night one year ago today
I quietly slipped into bed knowing everything had changed

Because after I hit my head on the corner of the laundry chute
she wandered down to the basement and asked if I was ok

Because we played Chutes and Ladders in bed
huddled together, Elmo, Big Bird and Cookie Monster

Because they fell asleep listening to me whispering
So lucky to be your mama

Because the trees were ripped from their roots
and the sky grew black

and the clouds heaved and the winds howled
and these storms come with little warning

Because the voice on the radio said Take Cover Now
Seek Shelter, Stay Low

Because love demands continuous expression
demands that we wake up

before the storms become so severe
that our lives become uninhabitable

Because metaphors won’t shield us from the flood
the fire, the melt, the unhinging planet

a patient who can’t be stabilized
by belated procedures

A hospital, a hailstorm, a baby’s born
a frail man with a walker greets everyone Hello

Because every hello, every hug, bears witness
to the skin we share, the hearts we have in common

Because you too would lay yourself down to save
a child’s life as the earth

rages at our blind eyes and deaf ears
drumming rain on the roofs we mistake as solid

Because I woke in a woman’s arms
having surrendered ego and any illusion of control

Because I paced
like a caged animal

then ran free into the most wide-open spaces I could find
and they were all inside, all inside

Because I opened my eyes
Because I stood beneath a waterfall and tried to drink

buried my face in the leaves, carried my babies on my back
and stopped to lie down in the the summer soft grass

Because we all want safety, comfort, and protection
and yet these moments touch down, tornadoes

take down everything we built in minutes
and we are left standing in the rubble

the broken glass, shards and fragments
of our former havens

Because what we know then is love
It always comes to this

We call the ones we love, cry when we hear their voices
and realize how scared we were, how small

Only then do we wake up and remember
that we have everything in each other’s

naked dancing bodies, soothing voices
touching hands

Everything  in each other’s
soothing voices and touching hands

And so we

Give thanks
Give thanks
Give thanks

Jena Strong, mother of these two gorgeous girls, writes the beautiful blog, More Joy, Less Oy.

6 thoughts on “Giving Thanks”

  1. This was breathtakingly beautiful. I don’t have words. Just thank you, for sharing. So profound. I will most definitely check out her blog.

  2. I read this a few times and each time it struck me anew with a deep sense that we are so fragile and yet we are so strong. That this life is so beautiful even when it is awful. Thank you for this lovely reminder! What a poet!

  3. I read this post when it first came out but was unable to reply at the time. I’m glad I came back to my reader. This poem is beautiful and timely. My sister was in Springfield with her children adopting a kitten when the tornado ripped through. It blew out the windows in the store and her car windows while it was parked on the street. Coming on the heels of the devastation in Joplin, I was incredibly thankful for my sister’s quick thinking that kept her and my niece and nephews safe.

    As a side note, I was tweeting weather status to you but I don’t think you could get it because you don’t follow me. I didn’t realize at the time that you don’t see tweets of people you don’t follow. Weird.

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