Well God’s green hair is where I slept last
He balanced a diamond on a blade of grass
– Tom Waits, Bottom of the World
It’s that time of year; the time to count our blessings and say our thanks.
I thank the old Mennonite couple in Mississippi who gave me a room in the heavily graffitied building that was once a missionary school for Choctaw children. They lived on a large property with a huge garden, and did their best to help out their poor community in as many ways as they could, while caring for the elderly parent with Alzheimer’s who wandered the property. They charge a small fee for boarding, but will take in anyone needing a place to go.
I thank the retired woman in a South Dakota mining town who decided to escape city life on the East Coast. After talking with me and deciding I was a “spiritual person,” she spent a day showing me the Pathways Spiritual Sanctuary, which has several miles of serene hiking through an 80 acre ranch in the Black Hills.
I thank the black man near Memphis, the manager of a soul food restaurant, who walked me over to one of the last of the real juke joints, so I could hear an old legendary blues man play his music.
I thank the cowboy in the middle of Texas who was late for work so we could have five cups of coffee (I normally drink two) in the dining hall of his hotel, so he could tell me all about Angus cows. (He was impressed to find someone who would listen, I guess!) He didn’t let me pay for my breakfast.
I thank the Navajo who showed me the remains of the lodges where his people camped in Arizona before they were taken away on the Long Walk in the 1800s. Then he shared a couple beers with me that he had smuggled onto the reservation.
I thank the small town people of the Texas panhandle who played folk music all day, and the old woman with a walking stick who let me sleep on an air mattress in her living room, so I could stay and listen to them play all day the next day, too.
I thank the American soldiers who shared a meal with me on Thanksgiving, while they were on leave in Dublin, Ireland.
And so many more, so many more. Let’s all remember what a great world we live in, and give thanks.
I have no chair, no church, no philosophy,
I lead no man to a dinner-table, library, exchange
But each man and each woman of you I lead upon a knoll,
My left hand hooking you round the waist,
My right hand pointing to landscapes of continents and the public road.
Not I, not any one else can travel that road for you,
You must travel it for yourself.
– Walt Whitman, Song of Myself, from Leaves of Grass