Jewish World Review
Nov. 21, 2013/ 18 Kislev, 5774
Gratitude is the ultimate long view
They say farsightedness is one of those gifts that tends to come with age. Maybe so.
In life or landscapes, in vision or vistas, whenever possible, I like to take the long view.
For six weeks, I've been alone on a lake in the mountains where I grew up, watching fall work its magic outdoors, while I try to work indoors on a book.
I wish you could see it.
The lake, not the book, though I hope in time you'll see it, too.
My desk sits at a window, where I can look down into the water, as if on a boat, or far off at the horizon, as if on the back of a really big bird, to where the lake flows into the next basin.
The view, if spectacular, is ridiculously distracting, with all manner of leaves and birds and fish and beauty screaming for my attention. If I had any sense, I would move my desk to some visually quieter location, maybe in the boathouse or under a bed.
But here I sit staring at leaves so red they look like flames, and flocks of birds that scatter like a fistful of pepper tossed in the air, and fish that swim up to look at me, as if to ask when I'm coming out to feed them.
The last few days put a damper on the view, as rain began to fall and a mist rolled in, muting colors, swallowing images, softening sounds.
I got a lot of work done.
At one point, I took a break and went out on the porch to sit in the rocker and close my eyes and smell the rain and listen to the drumming on the tin roof.
As breaks go, on a 10-scale, I'd give it a 12.
Just as I started back inside, the clouds thinned, and I saw the sun come swimming up from the bottom of the lake. I've seen it dance a thousand times on the lake. This was the first time I saw it dance underwater.
While I stood there, looking down, I noticed something falling up at me, a tiny speck moving like a baseball in slow motion. As it grew closer, it started spinning, taking on a new shape like a star.
I didn't realize what it was until it quit coming toward me and suddenly stopped, just to float on the water.
A maple leaf. What I had seen, of course, was its reflection, as it fell from somewhere far above me all the way down to the lake.
It made me laugh out loud in wonder and surprise, startling birds and frightening fish and feeling happy.
I could've sworn that leaf was falling up at me. But things are not always as they seem. It's all a matter of perspective.
In three days, I will leave the lake to take some time off from writing, to go home and see if my husband remembers me, and spend a week in California, celebrating Thanksgiving with our children and grandchildren and family-like friends.
As always, I will set two Thanksgiving tables for all the people I hold dear: One in my dining room (actually, my daughter's dining room this time) for those who'll be with us; and one in my heart for those who will not.
I'll save a place for you at that second table. Really. You don't need to bring a thing.
I hope your life, like mine, is so full of goodness and grace that when you try to count your blessings you'll have to keep borrowing fingers and toes.
Gratitude is the ultimate long view. It looks beyond the clatter of the moment and the tyranny of the urgent and the temporary setbacks in life -- the hurts and fears, loss and disappointment that can seem to go on forever.
Instead, it shows us the sun swimming up from the depths of a lake and a leaf falling down from heaven.
Gratitude opens the eyes of the heart to see in the distance what is real and what is true.
Please know I am always thankful for your readership and especially your friendship.
Here's wishing you and yours a grateful Thanksgiving.
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