On Wednesday night, Brian Doyle spoke at our library. I was late, but as I was walking in he said this:
If you pay attention, every moment has holiness.
I don't always achieve it, but I believe it being observant. In paying attention and noticing the—the way a thing feels. Even if it is a hard thing, except lately I am more and more adept at avoiding feeling what is hard.
I am working on not doing that.
Because even the hard moments have holiness, if you look at them closely. If you feel what they feel like.That's because holiness doesn't equate with joy. At least, not always. Instead, for me, holiness is presence. Is being alive instead of just living. The rough. The buttery. The delicious or sweet or bitter.
These are all rich.
For my own personal soul candy, I'm grateful that I've developed whatever level of observance I have. It centers me and helps me cope. It makes things mean more to no one else but myself, which is all that I need or, really can ever control.
Tonight, I stayed up late, preparing Thanksgiving. We are having two this year, since my niece is leaving on an LDS mission right before the real one. Tomorrow is the first one, with the niece.
Well, today is, as I've stayed awake until Saturday.
I made roll dough, pie crust, and cranberry mousse. I made an enormous mess. I talked to my boys when I could coax them upstairs and I listened to music—the same playlist I listened to in Italy—when I couldn't.
I sang along.
I stood with my face in the steam rising from cranberries popping into softness in sugar. It's a delicate smell, the cranberry sauce. You have to get close and pay attention to really smell it, but when it's mixed with the fragrance of rising yeast?
That is Thanksgiving, even two weeks early.
Later, once all the making was done and the washing of pans and bowls and mixer parts finished, I went outside to take the garbage and the recycling out. It was misty and cold, since it rained today and there is snow in the mountains. Nearly a fog, but a faint one, right on top of the blacktop. The sky was clear, so I stood in my neighbor's driveway and looked at the stars—Orion, and the Big Dipper, and all of the lights without names. The moon was nearly full and there was a ring of cloud around it. "Sax and Violins" by Talking Heads came on and I just stood, shivering but happy. There were sparkles of frost on the crispy leaves.
"We were criminals who never broke no laws." I actually sang it out loud, and then I realized how weird I must've looked: covered in flour, with sticky bits of cranberries splattered on my forehead, in my pajamas. Standing in the neighbor's yard, looking at the stars, singing out loud.
At 1:00 in the morning.
But it was worth the potential my-neighbors-think-I'm-weird risk. Because love will keep us together and alive. Because looking up, looking weird, looking around—these things make it real. You miss everything if you don't look. Observance makes things holy.
I'm watching while the birds go flying home. (Even though there were only stars, clouds, mist, the moon, and darkness in the sky.)