Every day I find something to be grateful for, even if it’s only that the sun is shining, that the pain of loss is muted, that I once had a great love, that I have open spaces to explore (both in my head and in the world). Even when all else seemed bleak these past nineteen months, even when I had no hope, there was always something to be grateful for (most often that my mate was no longer suffering), so I don’t need to set aside a special day of thanksgiving.
Still, during this season of giving thanks, there is something I am especially grateful for, something worth celebrating . . . words.
Words convey thoughts, ideas, hopes from one person to another. They connect us from continent to continent, enabling us to bond with like-minded people all around the world. I have exchanged words — and friendship — with people from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the Nederlands, India. And for this I am grateful.
Words allow us to read and to write, to find entertainment and enlightenment in worlds created out of nothing but letters strung together. Words allow a story, concocted in one mind, to come to full realization in another. For most of my life, these worlds of words have been my life, or at least a major part of it. Now that I too am a world-creator, I am grateful for the words with which I build my stories.
Words give comfort, especially when distance (either geographic or emotional) does not allow a touch of commiseration. I am especially grateful for all the words of encouragement you (the readers of this blog) have given me during my time of grief, words that touched me. I hope some of my words touched you.
Words mean hope. With words, there is always the hope that we will be able to come to an understanding of each other, and perhaps find peace. (Of course, people would have to shut up long enough to listen to each other’s words; one-way words cause conflict and confusion.)
Words mean community and continuity. Words, both spoken and written, presuppose that there is someone to listen, and that is community. Telling our his-stories and her-stories to each other creates both community and continuity. They tell us who we were, who we are, and who we hope to become.
If there were no one to hear our words, if we existed solely in ourselves, we’d still need words to communicate our feelings and ideas to ourselves. This ability to put our thoughts into words gives us the power to know ourselves and to understand greater truths.
So this week, whether you celebrate the U.S. Thanksgiving or not, stop for a moment to give thanks for words. They are we.