Dear readers and friends (mostly you are one and the same, and I thank you for being there with me on this strange recently interrupted blogging journey),
Today’s post—this 12th day of the New Year (that tells you something, doesn’t it?)—comes in the form of a letter. It seems right after my long absence from this blog to break the barriers of “isn’t life beautiful” with some talk of real life—where I’ve been and why. I’ve been here, at this desk, staring at this computer, but I haven’t been “here,” posting every day about the things that give me joy.
Ironic, isn’t it, that not having the energy or time to seek out the beautiful and to give thanks for it, coincided perfectly with the season that asks us to do exactly that, but which simultaneously traps us in a race of running, spending, and wasting. The upside of my Christmas was that I spent a great deal of time with family, but that was also, truth be told, part of its downside! The stresses of family life are shifting as the years go by, and I don’t find myself living what you’d call a carefree life. Probably none of us do. I know that what I’m experiencing is universal, but that doesn’t render it any easier for any of us, does it?
But the point is this. Between flying back and forth across the ocean, working, doing that Christmas-shopping-thing, making costumes for 75 first graders, helping to take care of a relative with Alzheimers, and dealing with fractured bones and pneumonia, I forgot to do what this blog was designed to do: Take the time to enjoy the abundant small, simple things and be deeply grateful for them.
Years ago, Roberto and I went to Naples. One night, while cruising the old district, we fell upon an antique store full of old ex-votos. Many of them were primitive, hand-painted panels depicting a tragic or potentially tragic event from which the painter was undoubtedly saved. And in the corner were printed the letters PGR. Per grazia ricevuta. The one I remember best depicted a man in mid-fall from an apple tree. Obviously, he survived. I found it heart-breakingly beautiful that a person, no matter their talent or lack thereof in the graphic arts, should express his or her gratitude by attempting to illustrate (and therefore re-live) an event from which they had emerged if not unscathed then at least alive!
Thanks per grazia ricevuta! For grace received. For being delivered. For surviving. For making it safely. For swiftly recovering. For another holiday full of love. For the fact that we are all together. For the boat that didn’t sink, the plane that didn’t fall, the illness that wasn’t fatal…
Even though I am not religious, I had wanted this blog to be a sort ex-voto—an expression of faith and thanks to the universe and to other human beings for all that makes my life rich. And what I forgot this Christmas when I was just too tired to make it to the keyboard, was that giving thanks is an energizing act. Recognizing what enriches your life pulls you closer to it, and makes you even happier. Saying thank you is a sure-fire cure for feeling you have nothing to be thankful for. And a little time does need to be carved out of every single day to do that.
So. PGR. Here’s to a New Year not full of good things, but a New Year in which I am able to see that which is before me which is already so amazingly good and worthy of my thanks.
And that includes you all.