The harvest season was upon me. Typically, my heart would be full of reverence for our Maker’s bountiful blessings. However, with my husband’s death eight months earlier, my soul was traumatized. I strived to exhale gratitude and find something palpable each day to hold in awe. Nevertheless, I felt like I was the example of the Chinese Proverb, “Perseverance: to continue on with a knife in your heart.”  Until, that is, the day I attempted to go shopping for our Thanksgiving dinner and a cornucopia of random things transpired.

I did not want to celebrate Thanksgiving. I wanted to hibernate under the covers and let the world pass me by. Thanksgiving was always a festive occasion at our home. How could I possibly reenact that joy for my daughters and the rest of the family?

Panic rose up in my body as I drove to the grocery store. I couldn’t go in the store by myself. My husband and I always planned and shopped for this feast together. I sat in my Jeep, in the parking lot, literally shaking.  My vortex of emotional vulnerability was running rampant.

Somehow, my body put me through the motions of walking through the store doors, despite the feeling of tip toeing through shattered glass and blazing fire. Fumbling through my purse, I realized that I had misplaced my shopping list. “Great,” I thought to myself,  “Now I can run back to my Jeep, go home and forget the whole thing!” No such luck. A little boy came up to me and sweetly asked, “Did you drop this list?” Consequently, his look of genuine concern and warmth reminded me of my girls and reinforced the knowledge that I had to persevere.

As I was picking out a turkey, a familiar voice said, “Lisa.” I turned around to see one of my husband’s former apprentices. He greeted me and asked me over and over how I was. I guess my “fine” wasn’t really convincing. He was authentically concerned. I was jolted back to an earlier time when he visited my husband in the hospital before his passing. We hugged goodbye. I went back to my shopping. As I looked around, treasured memories, moments, and milestones from my life with my husband and family came flooding back to me. We had shopped at this store for 24 years. Our oldest daughter learned to walk pushing the shopping cart. I started to get extremely hot and lightheaded. Then, the tears came. Not just a few scattered, easy to wipe away ones. No, this was an avalanche of weeping with mascara running down my cheeks and me gasping for air.

The next thing I knew I was being saved by a friend, a store employee. The kindest of words poured from her lips. She led me to the employee area. Sat me down and got me some water. Next, she called some other employees and they finished my shopping list, packed my bags, and put them in my Jeep.

Here again, God knew what I needed. He delivered refuge to me in a form of a friend, enabled me to endure, and bestowed on me an analogy. Amidst all the elements of my life that have drastically changed, I needed to welcome life from a spirit of doxology. As the well-known quote reiterates, “There is always, always something to be thankful for!”

Upon returning home and emptying my shopping bags, I was surprised as I pulled out a small wrapper with Chinese cookies. They weren’t on my list. Where did they come from? The fortune inside stated, “Gratitude and thankfulness is the open door to abundance!” If you are feeling frayed during this Thanksgiving season, like I was, please seek, reap and reflect on the plentiful blessings that surround you.

With Grace to You,

Lisa Dempsey Bargewell

Next Wednesday’s blog topic: I Don’t Recognize Myself