Thanksgiving 2015

Every day is a day to give thanks, and I try to do that every night in my evening prayers. But in the U.S. we set aside the fourth Thursday of November as a special day.

Happy Thanksgiving!

On this fourth Thursday in 2015, I have so much to be thankful for.

Steve and I on the top of the Krak de Chevaliers, Wadi al Nassara, Syria, November, 2014.

Steve and I on the top of the Krak de Chevaliers, Wadi al Nassara, Syria, November, 2014.

First on my list is my husband, Steve, who is standing in the kitchen chopping vegetables for a savory bread dressing, a staple of the meal that goes with this day. I am thankful for the miracle he is in my life; not looking for a life mate, our paths crossed fourteen years ago and here we are today. Sharing life. Sharing love. Sharing joy and sorrow. ‘Til death do us part.

 

Six siblings at the memorial service for the seventh, our baby sister Cathy.

Six siblings at the memorial service for the seventh, our baby sister Cathy..

I am thankful for brothers and sisters who have walked through the hard times of head injury, of broken marriages and of new marriages, of loss through disease and grievous loss through crime. We once were seven, and now we are six, but the six remain a unit bound together through love. We are family.

I am thankful for friends who open up the world as a place to experience God’s glory and his grace. They encourage. They grieve for, mourn with, and on the other side they celebrate in joy. They are faithful women. They are lay and clergy – men and womenI am thankful for friends who open up the world as a place to experience God’s glory and his grace. They encourage. They grieve for, mourn with, and on the other side they celebrate in joy. They are faithful women. They are lay and clergy – men and women.

Flanked by Rev. Kate Kotfila of Cambridge, New York, and my new friend Mahsen, from Hasakeh, Syria, we fold peace cranes together.

Flanked by Rev. Kate Kotfila of Cambridge, New York, and my new friend Mahsen, from Hasakeh, Syria, we fold peace cranes together.

They sing. They dance. Their tears flow with mine. Their laughter is a symphony. They will go anywhere. They will do anything. Even when it is so hot the sweat pours off their faces; even when they are drinking their tenth cup of deep, dark, sweet Arabic coffee when they would rather have an iced tea. They will venture to places that cause people to say, “You are so brave!”, even when they know it is not their courage, but the courage of others that draws them into participation in life because they know where real courage comes from.

Kirkuk, Iraq, November, 2012, with The Outreach Foundation. The gentleman in the front row, second from the left, is now the patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, His Grace, Louis Raphael Sako.

Kirkuk, Iraq, November, 2012, with The Outreach Foundation. The gentleman in the front row, second from the left, is now the patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, His Grace, Louis Raphael Sako.

I am thankful for the church I have come to know in Lebanon and Syria and Iraq. I am thankful that when I say I believe in God the Father almighty, and in his son, my savior Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit who is my guide and comfort, that I say it in community with the saints of old and the saints of now. They are embodied in Catholic, Orthodox and Reformed congregations and the faith and courage and perseverance they model every day in the midst of war and terror and death is a reminder to me of what it means to follow this triune God. He does not promise us life without loss, but he does offer us life abundant. And when I see how abundant life is in the church in these hard places, I have seen this promise lived out daily.

I am thankful for grace. For I have deserved it not, earned it not, purchased it not. But it has been freely given at great cost.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Dona nobis pacem.

Jana

Jana enjoying the homemade ice cream off the dasher. That's the Prescott way!

Jana enjoying the homemade ice cream off the dasher. That’s the Prescott way!

She is the second born of the seven Prescott siblings and the oldest of the five girls. That’s Jana, and she is my big sister and I love her. For the last almost 30 years we have been housemates.

Jana was hit by a train on February 14, 1983, when she was 25 years old, in Longmont, Colorado. I was living in Omaha then as now, and was woken up by an angry roommate who took the call that came to our apartment at about midnight that Valentine’s Day. It was my sister Sally calling to tell me the horrible news about Jana and Susan. My job was to go wake up my dad and tell him. That’s another story for another day.

Jana and Susan both survived what should have killed them both, and now, over 30 years later I still have those two sisters, the one born thirteen months before me and the one born sixteen months after me.

Jana spent just over five months in hospitals and then moved home with my dad and stepmom. After living with our parents for a bit over a year, she and I bought our first small house together and have been roommates, as I said, ever since. We have welcomed two pairs of wonderful canine mutts into our lives, and when I got married to Steve in 2002, he joined the household as well.

But this is about my sister Jana and how these two sisters have grown and changed over these thirty years. There are many days when we are just two sisters: we laugh, we have inside jokes that Steve will never understand and we can mix it up in anger and disagreement just like when we were small. Sisters will always be sisters after all.

Over the last several years, especially when she started having seizures at the site of her head injury, I have become caregiver in addition to trustee, bookkeeper and chief transporter. The latter three are things that just went with being her sister and her roommate. She can’t drive and I have a head for numbers. But caregiver is a different category. It involves worrying about whether or not she will fall down the stairs or just on a flat surface when she can’t pick her foot up. It means paying attention to when she has seizures and asking doctors if we don’t need to adjust medications. It means always being vigilant and listening if I need to run to help. It’s a fine line between letting her have the independence every adult should have and being alert to when that has to take a back seat.

I am so lucky to have Steve as a partner in all this. I always say he is a saint. Who would choose this kind of family life, after all? But he is there at every step and I count on his strength, which seems to be inexhaustible.

But there are days when I look at Jana – and I know she has these days too, too often perhaps – when I remember the woman who did wilderness/survival training on below-zero nights at Fontenelle Forest, the woman who played guitar and flute and sang a strong alto, the woman who climbed Mt. Meeker and wrote a ballad about its beauty outside her Colorado cabin window. There are days when I look at her and miss my big sister, the one who looked out for me.

But there are days that I still see her spark and smile and wicked sense of humor. And I plan on spending more than plenty of those with her yet.