Thanks-filled Giving

It was about a year ago… 

A beautiful stranger on an oddly named dating site reached out to me and asked about my Thanksgiving. I replied that Thanksgiving is: “The long draw out smell of turkey, a delicious foreplay in anticipation of a pedestrian protein” – or something to that effect. From that, an intrigue was sparked, and reciprocity laden appreciations manifested themselves into the bulk of the following year.

What a glorious and delicious year it was. I feasted.

The slow steady growth of mutual appreciations. The open and shared gentle excavations of two exquisite souls. An evolution in my admiration for her beauty – a beauty that ran so much deeper than the mere surface features that had initially enthralled me. The river of wonders that cascaded through the breadth of this creature… my heart swoons at the memory of the rewarding cultivation of the heart of her. The budding of a love both real and profound. 

She and I cultivated a tender friendship, shared our deepest secrets (and heard the others without judgment), we found that the joys of dancing together were greater for the love in our eyes. This love was not without baggage. Relationships past and scars deeply etched were hurdles too high to ignore. The tremors of things profoundly ingrained, of patterns and expectations, distilled deep within, proved too great a burden to ignore.

But as hard as we tried and as amazing as it may have been – our relationship was only for a season. Today a friend said to me: “that it was, ‘at least’ a joy to have loved her”. What a silly friend I have – this one unaware of the capacities of love at its zenith. Unaware of the timeless quality inherent in true love. Here today, in this season – a timeless Thanksgiving for a love still vibrant and strong.

I have lost friends, loved ones, family members, a marriage and acquaintances. I have lost them to sickness, death and to the passing shifts of the ancillary things they focused on in their lives. But I have not lost my love for them. The love remains. I am grateful for that love. Thankful indeed.

That is what this season is for.

Realizing the gloriousness of the loving gift of others. Not allowing things beyond that love to diminish the purity and sacredness in the heart of it. 

I remember back in Spanish class in High School. Conjugating verbs.…. Amor (to love)  Amo, Amos, Ama, Amamos, Aman… (I love, you loved, he loved, we loved, they loved…)

It seems that people also tend to conjugate Thankfulness. We have thanks-ish and thanks-isms and thanked-full… We ‘past tense’ it as Thanks-given, but that is not what thanks is about. ThanksGIVING. It is active! It is a sense of a graceful attribution in the perpetual – in the NOW. Too often we look back at thanks given and we lose our intimacy with the appreciation, acknowledgment, gratitude and love.

Do we also find it easier if we conjugate love? Love-ish… love-isms… Loveed… Well, I do not! I have been wrong about what I thought was love. I have been naïve. I have been headstrong and heart-swept and lost in a feeling that I confused with love (because the ecstasy of it was something raw that I dreamed of as heaven-sent). 

But this year, specifically, I choose to be Thankful for the real loves I have known. I’ve bitten into the root of love. I’ve savored its sweetness. The juice of it has dripped from my chin.

When I close my eyes and reach into my memories the sweetness of it is still there on my lips. It is not diminished by situations changed – unless I betray love’s reality and treat it with disdain. Why would I divest myself of the emancipating glee of it? Hopefully not because I could not control it in every aspect. The Love that manifests itself, as a gift, in our lives is real or it is not. It lives as a vibrant entity. Separate from circumstances. Which is a lucky thing… because circumstances are outside of our control.

Our pasts haunt us and flail at our present – sometimes relationships are set aside for reasons beyond love. Geographies assail us. Principalities intrude. Priorities shift as the years coalesce and current preoccupations are reassigned, despite our lover’s earnest intent. The question is not one of reaction, in this season of Thankfulness. The question is: “what truly was the nature of that thing you called love”. If it is true love, the pains of separation will not be diminished but neither will the love. Neither will be the Thankful spirit that adorns the sweetheart adored.

I must accept that the object of my love is only capable of being who they are. I may have read what it took to know them. I’ve listened without judgment to deep secrets revealed. I’ve watched and adored with eyes opened… but because the love is true: nothing in any of that changes the love in me. Not even harsh distances imposed. And I am able to be Thankful. Not bitter. I’m a bit confused perhaps and certainly saddened by aspects beyond my control – but what I need not give up is the Thankfulness. Just as I cannot give up the love.

Lastly, I choose not to be so selfish as to feast on Thanks-taken. Certainly not in the realm of love. Love is not exemplified in the taking. Just as true love is not rewarded in the reaction of the recipient. Love is a selfless act of creating, for the object of our love, the gift of that love. Evidenced by the heartfelt actions of that love as they flow genuinely from us. I am to be thankful in the giving of my love, it is not dependent on the reaction of the recipient – if it is then it was not about them. It was about me. If it is about me then it is about the taking and not the giving. That is not real love.

Here is the blessing in that true love… it is not dependent on the reaction of the one being loved. We must love them for the fulfillment in the act of love itself. We love purely and without the need for compensation. And as I have learned this year – without the need of proximity as an affirmation. 

This year I am filled with Thanksgiving, and the love that encapsulates it for family and friends. Those here and those who have left me. I am thankful for a sweet and gracious ex-wife, for my children near and far, and for the loves in my life that are vibrant and alive within me. For the reciprocal love of my parents. God bless them all as they walk their paths. 

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