I spent 13 years living in the US of A but never really appreciated Thanksgiving until this year, 12 years after leaving the States. I don’t really know why… except maybe I do!
Just a few a weeks ago I flew to Rome to give a eulogy at the funeral of my colleague and close friend. She left us too soon.
I wouldn’t classify myself as Christian, but I am spiritual that is for sure, and watching the Catholic funeral rite, I realized how much I appreciate the importance of having some kind of ritual to send off our loved ones to the next realm, whatever and wherever that may be. Death is so frightening to us, because we, those of us left behind, feel insecure and afraid: what is next, where do we go, what happens to us ? Sitting in the Roman church, listening to the sermon gave me more comfort than I have experienced in any religious ceremony lately. At least we are not alone in feeling this fear, and the funeral rite, not only the Christian or Catholic one I am sure, reminds us of this.
Later that week in Istanbul, I felt compelled to visit a church and light a candle in memory of her, and also one in memory of my mother. The soft flickr and light of the candles in the dark church warmed my heart.
Fast forward two weeks : It’s Thanksgiving in Kosovo and I am invited, together with my father, who is visiting, to join our Japanese-American friends for a Thanksgiving dinner. I was so relieved to be able to join close friends around a ritual of thanksgiving. I gave thanks to my friendships, my family, each moment of joy that life brings, even in the midst of pain, sadness, grief and despair. I never want to stop seeking out those specks of light, warmth and love, and this year’s Thanksgiving reminded me of the importance of doing so. From now on, wherever I am, I will honor this lovely holiday each year.