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Like a cunning lover, last week’s snowfall wooed autumn’s dismantling within the rigors of winter: Leafy branches sported white overcoats; spindly shrubs stooped in supplication; fence posts peaked with medieval turrets. A solitary cardinal flashed toward a neighbor’s woodshed, then alighted and preened like a celebrity caught within the blitz of paparazzi. From a snow mound poked the handle of a red wagon. Flurries outlined swirls of breezes that fashioned ghostly images upon the asphalt street and tousled the green muffler flapping around the snowman’s neck nearby. Only random cars moved about.

All was still: Its pregnant hush evoked an OH! The first morning of creation must have felt like that.

Such OHs burst with silence, trip breathing, balloon joy, and open onto the companioning Sacred within our depths. Yet a tinge of sadness lingers in their wake, such OHs! so fleeting and evanescent. Would that we could hold onto them. That being said, we can still watch for them and give thanks when experienced.

And this year, do watch for OHs! around Thanksgiving tables, graced with family and friends. Go beyond well-worn traditions and bring something new: a new dish, a new prayer, a new listening.

“Bidden or not bidden, God is present.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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“Her name is Millicent—She’s nine weeks old.” Her voice trills, her dark eyes flash, her rounded shoulders stand tall as my neighbor shifts the short leash to her other gloved hand. Around her heels teeters her new poodle, its blonde scrimpy coat unlike the tawny one of Fredericka, her predecessor.

For long years my neighbor had cared for Fredericka: groomed her meticulously, walked her mornings and evenings, attired in appropriate rain or snow gear; and when younger, coached her to prance on hind legs to the squeals of kids. Even her hair color and loose fitting dresses complemented Fredericka’s. They were inseparable.

However, this spring brought change. Heavy were the steps of both my neighbor and Fredericka. Their walks were shorter, their spirits lagging. It was just a matter of time. And then my neighbor climbed the hills alone, her head bowed as if still searching for Fredericka, her black pointed shoes plodding resolutely upon the sidewalk. Somber was her attire and mood.

But no longer—winds now tease strands of blonde hair across my neighbor’s forehead and whips open her cream-colored long coat. Vibrantly alive, she bursts with news and the Universe is listening. We are too.

 

Goats from Bob’s Mobile Petting Zoo munch the begonias along the front walk of the brownstone. On the front stoop, kids bottle-feed spring lambs and pet others. Nearby, a saddled pony tosses her blonde mane and waits with her handler for the next rider. Ducks squawk as a neighbor, broom in hand, shoos them from her roses. Rock music and squeals of laughter pour through opened windows, their lace curtains frisked by winds within the froth of play.

It’s Chris’s surprise party for his twelfth birthday.

Inside, multi-colored streamers festoon the walls and fixtures, helium balloons smooch the ceilings, paper plates drip with remains of pizza and ice cream. Upon the dining room table dances the father who organized this after-school party; Chris and his buddies gyrate in tandem with him. In all the rooms more kids wearing party hats jump on sofa cushions and dance.

A sense of concerted play makes complete sense of this apparent mayhem until abruptly ended by the return of the irate mother, an interior design executive. “The party’s over,” says the father, and their shared camaraderie fizzles.

So the 1994 movie, Mrs. Doubtfire, begins.

Had not the mother axed this party, it would have continued into the evening; its momentum, open-ended and spiced with joy, fired imaginations of the participants and blessed them.

Imagine if Mrs. Doubtfire (the father’s later disguise) would throw a similar party on Capitol Hill—It would have to be a surprise.

 

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