I sit here on the sofa, wrapped in darkness and a fuzzy blanket, two nights from the autumn equinox.
A red candle flickers beside me as I stare out the dirt-streaked window at a stationary fleck of light hovering above the roof.
For the first time all day, my breathing is slowed. My body is unclenching itself. My heart, finally, can be heard in the stillness. I curl up within the arms of this moment and let the tears fall.
These are tears of gratitude. Release. Knowing.
I am not this clenching, this sickness in the pit of my belly; this anxious flutter of my heart; this darkness. No, I am this flicker of light that hovers in the darkness, casting a shadow in a willowy dance across the wall.
I am, in this moment, an equinox, bearing equal weight between light and dark.
We woke up this morning to face the reality of a bright light, a steady flame, having passed from the earth: Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And now we must step into the void she left behind with our flickering flames lit against the night.
We woke to flames, still, consuming the land across the West. To smoke and darkened skies and heavy lungs.
We woke to political wars—unending. They seem to burn through us all like wildfire.
We woke to a smoldering pandemic, not yet extinguished.
We woke to birds dropping from the sky by the thousands, scattered like fallen stars across the body of Earth.
We grieve, we sit, we kneel, we scroll, we pace, we fight, we collapse, we keep breathing.
But here, we also reach for our matches and illuminate the dark.
On slip after slip of torn yellow paper, I write. One word, or a few, in black ink; folded in half, I stuff them inside a jar until it is full.
These are the gifts from 2020—my jar of thanks.
I pull them back out and read them, one by one. The naming of each gratitude is a candle struck in the dark, and though the room is unchanged, I swear the light from these slips of paper is spilling out the windows to the night.
Autumn is a time to celebrate abundance, harvest, bounty. Though this year has, at times, closely resembled plagues of biblical proportion, this inventory of blessings reminds me of what has not only survived—but sprung from—the devastation of fires, floods, and pestilence.
Each scrap of paper is its own bounty.
Acts of courage.
Slip after slip after slip.
I scatter them on the floor and sit in awe of the harvest.
As the season turns, and I turn with it, I am reminded of all the sustenance that has come to me. All the seeds I have sown into the soil of my life. All the rays of sun, all the rain, all the wind. All the digging, excavating, and uprooting. All the pauses to rest. All the moments I couldn’t rise. All the moments I did anyhow.
In the midst of unprecedented hardship, these words of thanks glow bright inside the walls of my heart.
May you bask in the glow of your own bright thanks as we, in the northern hemisphere, welcome the autumn equinox. May we gather our bounty, feed our souls, and share the abundance with each other and the Earth.