In the days following Sandy I walked along Compo Beach, on Soundview Road, watching the sand-shoveling activity as homeowners and those they hired to help started the clean-up. The storm was appropriately named! Sand was piled in front yards and invaded lots of homes.
Town officials report that the hurricane flooded 260 Westport homes, and completely destroyed seven homes. Serious damage from falling trees affected 25 homes.
At the church we lost two large trees and Ed’s office window was smashed by some sort of flying debris in the high winds. The meeting house was unscathed. We were fortunate.
Power went out early Monday evening and by the following weekend the church was still without electricity, so we postponed the Saturday night family Coming of Age event, but planned to do the Sunday morning services, since we could do so with natural light. At the eleventh hour, however, power was restored – on Saturday at 5 p.m.
We had full attendance at both services on Sunday morning, and we held our Coming of Age ceremony in the early afternoon – the time when our 30 Coming of Agers exchange gratitude statements with their parents. One by one the young women and men stand and face their parents, light a candle in an expression of their gratitude, and tell their parent(s) some of the things for which they feel appreciative.
Each parent responds with a statement of their own – expressions of gratitude and love.
It’s a very moving and important rite of passage – important for all concerned! We don’t have many ways when we formalize those expressions of love. We all know that in our affluent culture we tend to take too many things for granted.
Sandy reminded us of our dependence on electricity and all the appliances that depend on those wires. Most of us spent at least a few days without power – refrigerated food spoiled and was discarded; hot showers stopped; television and the internet went dark; candles provided a little light. We felt our dependence. We experienced our vulnerability. There was a renewed sense of gratitude for all those things we normally take for granted.
The Coming of Age ceremony with parents highlighted the same thing – gratitude. As we celebrate another Thanksgiving, we are more conscious of the small and the great things in life for which we are, indeed, thankful.
Mary Oliver captures it nicely in her poem she titled, simply, Praying:
It doesn’t have to be/the blue iris, it could be/weeds in a vacant lot, or a few small stones; just pay attention, then patch/a few words together and don’t try/to make them elaborate,/this isn’t a contest but the doorway into thanks, and a silence in which/another voice may speak.
May there be times of silence for you this holiday season, providing opportunities for some inner voice to come into your heart’s doorway and express gratitude – it nourishes the Soul.