Most games have a buzzer that goes off, signaling its end. Victory is declared for whomever is ahead at that moment. Life is not quite like that. Though, as my good friend and comedian Dana Gould once quipped, “What hasn’t killed you, isn’t finished with you yet.”
So, it’s with great caution that I announce that we’ve finally secured our chickens from the weasel(s). We could not have done it without the dedication of our handyman Keith, who not only spent two entire nights sitting in darkness in a cold barn staking the critter out, but also came every morning around 5 am for days in other attempts to secure the coop and to give me a chance to go to bed for a couple hours before I had to get up the kids.
As you know from following the posts here, this entire experience has been a barn raising, with so many friends and family showing up in so many ways. Showing up is one of the greatest gifts you can give someone. Even the texts from my friends asking, “How did it go?” or saying, “Take a nap” brought a certain feeling of security to me at a time when I at best felt like a failure and at worst felt under a certain siege.
These small problems in our lives, of course, happen in a backdrop of seemingly insurmountable societal problems. It’s been a crappy fall out in the world and in so many of the people I love lives. Every headless chicken lying in the mud begged me to try to make meaning of it.
I’ve tried not to take the bait. It’s just too big. The best meaning I can make at this time—in the wake of the Ferguson decision; in a world where the U.S. puts the most powerful climate denier in the senate in charge of our climate policy; in face of dear friends who are battling cancer, job loss, divorce—is that yes, sometimes it’s true that the fox (or in this case, weasel) is guarding the hen house. And we might not have the answers. Or feel like we have the words. But we need to show up, because it’s going to keep busting our butts if we don’t.
But since that doesn’t sound very Thanksgiving-ey, I want to also offer this poem by Mary Oliver, who is better at making meaning from the world than I.
by Mary Oliver
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.
Wishing you all the gifts of gratitude in our lives. And for the times when you can’t muster gratitude, the gift of showing up.