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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Everyone Contributes

Well, now, I wish you could see the actual sketchbook page here, because it's lovelier than what you're looking at. The scanner has a hard time with these thick books, so I had to tile the two pages together. But you get the idea. And more to the point, it was fun to draw the tree as I sat on my front porch while the turkey roasted. Beyond the tree was the bird feeder I filled this morning after a chubby squirrel emptied it. I thought he should have a self-indulgent meal, too, so I wanted there to be lots to eat besides the dessicated partial pumpkin that's still lingering on the grass. After I filled the feeder, actual birds showed up, too. All kinds of birds.

At Thanksgiving dinner tonight, we engaged in our usual tradition of naming our gratitudes. Then I threw something new at the table. I encourage you to try it at home. I asked everyone to name someone from their past or present -- dead or alive, in contact with or estranged from -- who had been the source of some pain, for whatever reason. YOU know those relationships, right? We've all had them. The ones that matter so much that after a while we either have to change something fundamental in the situation or go crazy?

So we all had to name that person, then talk about one thing they had contributed to our lives. One good thing. And it couldn't just be, "Ever since he/she's out of my life I feel like a new person!" Or, "Putting up with him/her proved to me I could do anything!"

No, it had to be a direct, positive contribution.
Two of us had no trouble naming the person and their contribution.
Two of us struggled mightily to name the contribution. In one case, two of us helped another person by pointing out something the difficult-person-in-the-past had done.

I'm not sure whether everyone agrees with me, but I found this to be a wistful and worthwhile discussion. I especially enjoyed hearing points of view from my children that I hadn't heard before.


David McCann said...

Great idea! Pain seems to erase the good history ... and the "good" from history provides a focus .. if only for a moment (!) ... then we are compelled to return and live the reality of the "hurt" - caused by another -wondering why they ignore their "good" history that was once part of their being. What happens where there is a denial of the good and embracing the bad which can cause so much pain?

Lynn said...

Karen, your journal page is lovely! The texture of the tree bark is perfect.

Frank Ettenberg said...

I don't get it -you 'drew' that tree w/ watercolor while you waited? Seems to me an extraordinary feat, I also was pleased to read about your unexpected request at thxgiving dinner. Had I been at my sister's fest & had I read this in time, I certainly would have suggested
that we partake in this ritual. Perfect event for a not-spiritual family's gathering. Glad to make your acquaintance, Karen.. I've been aware of Randall T's doings since last year on FB and we both enjoy supporting, sometimes needling each other.