The holiday season, particularly Thanksgiving, often causes us to reflect on what we're grateful for in our lives. Health, family & good friends usually top that list, along with a roof over our heads & food on the table, and an overall contentment with how our lives are progressing. Like many people, I try to make it a practice to "count my blessings" during this time, especially to balance the near-constant demands of our material-driven culture that insists we buy every shiny new object & technological toy. But for this holiday season, I've decided to ponder a different nuance of gratitude that I rarely hear people talk about: Space.
"Space" of the spiritual variety is what occupies the gaps in our hearts when unexpected changes happen in our lives. We didn't get the job we wanted, or the romantic partner we'd longed for, or the house we had our hearts set on. Instead, we're left with our dreams still throbbing in our hands, struggling for breath, searching to find a new goal or object to pin our cherished hopes upon.
And what we suddenly have before us, whether we like it or not, is a blank canvas. An open horizon. A new path ahead with no road map to go by or compass to provide direction.
And that, in itself, can be an extraordinary blessing, if we allow it. How often I have been grateful for the road less traveled by! Did I deliberately choose it? Heavens no--I can count many times when I was left dizzied & gasping after the whirlwind of change, wondering what the heck I was going to do with myself once the dust & debris finally settled. But luckily, there's always been an inner voice inside me that said, "Don't be in a rush to fill up this space too fast. Set your table and put out your chairs, roll out your best china & finest wine, and let the next things that are supposed to be a part of your life gently come to you. Be grateful for the space."
Could that have been the Angels talking? I honestly think so. Because my natural inclination is to be a "fixer." Like many of you, I endeavor to have all my ducks in a row, to stick with a plan, to envision myself the way I'm "supposed to be" at this point in my life, including all of my imagined goals & glorious achievements. But what if the universe has a more interesting & soul-enriching idea?
So for this Thanksgiving, what I'm most grateful for is the gift of space--those odd quirks of fate that disrupted my plans & directed me to new paths I never would have encountered, which made more intriguing & creative choices possible. They say where one door closes, a window opens. And I believe that sometimes those windows lead to miracles we might never have experienced otherwise. Moments of serendipity where all appears lost--only to discover that there is a far more fascinating destiny awaiting you. But only if you can take a deep breath, relax, and allow the space to demonstrate its special brand of magic. If you can let yourself be content that space will do its gentle work in your heart & in your life, that is exactly the horizon that leaves room open for where your soul might really need to be.
Oh, and by the way, did I mention I saw 10 turkeys on my jog in Colorado today? Truly wild turkeys are well known as the "ghosts of the forest"--the most elusive game animals of all. Like the gentle space I've been speaking of, they don't announce their presence with harsh, "gobble-gobbles". Rather, they move quietly, swishing the grass with their carefully placed feet & beautiful feathers as they move with the precision of seasoned ballet dancers. Their soft chortles are more like rhythmic purrs than "gobbles", if you stop long enough to listen. And they'll only remain in your presence when you pause in silence & allow them the grace to occupy their special kind of space, for they are very shy & dignified birds.
And quite frankly, I couldn't help viewing them as a unique omen for the state of being I was inhabiting, one where I actually gave nature the room to speak in profound, non-verbal ways that are perhaps richer than all my well-laid plans. Like me, I hope you can take the time out to reflect on such moments of wild beauty & soul-opening space. Something tells me that if we allow these instances to affect us, they just might lead us to where our souls long to be after all. And for that, we shall be forever grateful . . .
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