Sunday, November 27, 2011

Short Poem And Long Explanation

When I write something, I always want people to "get" what I'm trying to say.

You might think "duh" but believe me I have been in plenty of critique groups and on plenty of blogs where writers prided themselves on turning out such obscure, foggy, wafting, poetic stuff that only they themselves and an Enlightened Few could understand it.

Not me.

You can't get any more normal-reader than Paul, who is only interested in what a piece says at first rapid read, and if it doesn't tell him anything, then what's the point?

So if I write something and he gets it, I know I'm good to go with the rest of the world as well.

On Thanksgiving morning I woke up feeling heavy in spirit. We've had a lot of difficulties recently, a lot of decisions to make, and a good share of misunderstanding and such, and I'm sorry to make you curious but I can't elaborate.

What if I were thankful for all of THAT, I thought, and recoiled at the very thought, and then reconsidered.

And then I got up and wrote a poem about determining to give thanks for those things we don't normally feel warm and grateful for on Thanksgiving.

I posted it here on the Shoe.

And then I had second thoughts. Who did I think I was, writing poetry?

So I had Paul and Jenny read it. Both were completely mystified at what I was trying to say. Something about whining about all the awful stuff in my life??

Ok, then there was no way anyone else would get it.

So I pulled it off.

Well, today Shelley the nephew's wifelet posted about Thanksgiving. And she referenced my poem, which wasn't there when she went looking for it again, and she had completely understood it, I could tell.

So I'm going to post it again. I've learned three things: A) Maybe going solely on Smucker-by-birth evaluations isn't always the best idea B) A simple word of encouragement from you can make a big difference to someone else. Thanks, Shelley! and C) As long as at least a few people understand you, it doesn't matter so much if the rest don't.


I normally give thanks this day

For all the good and pleasant stuff

Like tea and health and family

And house and clothes and food enough.


A longer list is left unsaid:

The things I don’t appreciate:

Frustration, pain, and endless work

The silence while I pray and wait.


Today I’m stepping out in faith

To see these too as gifts and grace

My thanks a symbol of my trust

Of purpose not of useless waste.


The cat with worms; the hungry teen

Who ate that Starbucks bar I’d hid;

The wind and rain; the gaining weight;

The suddenly-defiant kid.


I thank Him for the blogger moms

with hits a thousand times of mine,

The memories that still return

Of pain and shame when I was nine.


The folks who irritate me so

With grating quirks and talking much,

The ones who don’t appreciate

My friendly intervening touch.


The situations I can’t fix

That drive me to despair and tears.

The quiet suffering that lasts

For days, then weeks, then months and years.


The niece with infertility—

Should I give thanks for good held back?

For loved ones deep in grief and loss?

For Kenyan friends with constant lack?


The words I have to leave unsaid,

And situations I can't share.

The deep regrets of choices past

The list of things that seem unfair.


I come today with hands held out

To trust the Father’s hands to sift

Through all the life that comes my way

And thank Him for His choice of gift.


  1. Oh Dorcas....I "get" it. That's the way life is. You are brave to state those things that seem so frustrating and sad, and giving thanks anyway. I'll try that also.

  2. Yes, I get it too. Sorrow and joy all mixed together. That's life.

  3. Thank you for reposting. I read it over a few times this weekend, and am grateful for the voice giving validity to the complexity of our stories and for the honoring the sacred work of holding it all in the Christ's Light. --Kim

  4. I get it and i love it. thanks for sharing with the rest of us..~arlene

  5. I totally understand your message. I love the last verse. "Through His hands.... His choice of gift!" It doesn't change the situation, but it stills my heart.

  6. Got it. Completely. It could have been mine at this time in my life.

  7. Woops. that was comment was no anonymous, but I don't have a URL or whatever to put down. that was me. Gert Slabach.

  8. woops again. my keyboard is sticking. that last comment should have said "that comment was not anonymous." . . . [I also don't like misspelled words and grammatical errors if my name is behind it]. sorry for taking up your comment spaces, Dorcas. :-) --Gert

  9. I get it, and thanks. Was Wat I needed to hear.

  10. Hi Dorcas: I know you like more traditional music but your poem made me think of the song "Blessings" by Laura Story. She was a newlywed when her husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor and they deal with the aftermath today. She shared at a retreat I attended recently. From Betsy in Indiana.

  11. I am glad you posted it and I do understand. I've only just begun to learn about the hard thanks - your poem comforted me. Thank you for sharing.

  12. I identify too. Thanks for sharing. I think more will "get" it than not--especially women/moms.

  13. Thanks for putting your poem up again--I went looking for it a second time and it wasn't there. I think your Smucker Test is probably good for a lot of things, but not everything.

  14. Thanks for putting your poem up again--I went looking for it a second time and it wasn't there. I think your Smucker Test is probably good for a lot of things, but not everything.

  15. I get it!I do, I do! And then there's the twist of being thankful for something thats in process of growth but you can't share it because the next person's progress is being hampered by basement people and you feel guilty for your blessings. Heaven Can't wait!

  16. I wish I didn't "get it"!!! With a lump in my throat and tears threatening, with three deaths in our extended family in 18 days -- one from suicide, one from Hepatitis C and one from a farming accident, with some of the things that aren't mine to share that break my heart, with a cyst on a mammogram that needs "watching" and some family issues that would just make me a whole lot more comfortable in my spirit if they could somehow resolve themselves without Mama's intervention -- I GET IT!!!

    This is the season of grateful praise, and I'm a believer in grateful praise! (To be honest, some of mine has been pretty much grudging.) But GOD! How grateful I am that He chooses to invade our troubled hearts with His presence, and brings us comfort through His WORD and the words of others who are struggling to find answers in this crazy world. Thank you, Dorcas, for posting the poem and the explanation as well. I found great comfort in your honesty there, too. Good words for this Monday after Thanksgiving when the house is emptying out and there is so much to occupy my hands -- and more to occupy my heart. Blessings, Dorcas, to you and your family, and may God fill your heavy heart with His presence.

  17. My friend Mary H sent me here and I get it too. Every morning I wake up trying to figure out how to maintain a spirit of thanksgiving and gratitude in the face of our son's death. My mom told me when she was 83+ that God was still teaching her lessons about gratitude and thanksgiving. One never stops learning

  18. The holidays can add extra weight to burdened hearts; we can't help comparing what is with what should be, if only life were as pretty as the pictures we paint in our minds.

    But to be reminded that giving thanks in every circumstance is the essence of trust, and that God is fully trustworthy...For that I am grateful; I needed it. Thanks Dorcas.

  19. Well that makes me happy that so many "got it" and can understand.
    Betsy--my children introduced me to "Blessings" and I love it even if it's modern. :-)
    Kate, I think you're right that the Smucker test might not be good for quite everything!
    Margaret--I get that too.
    And Mary Ann and Leilani--I am so sorry for your losses and this hard stretch of the journey.

  20. I love the 'Blessings' song too even though it's not usually what I like. =)
    'Give thanks for good held back' is the line that I claim, and understand, and know that faith is maybe most evident there.
    I've been thinking a lot about words lately, and how much power they have to give life and new hope. So glad you're brave with your words.

  21. I totally get it! That last verse really hits home as I'm in the place of needing to trust God's heart and hands. His choice of gift . . . Not what I would choose, but it's His choice. I struggle many times to be grateful for His choice.
    --Reader in Ohio

  22. Some of my christian girlfriends and I have been working on our Gratefulness. It has been a hard row to hoe but nearly everyday we post our Thankful thoughts. We also share that hard stuff, the stuff that is living in a fallen world.
    I burst into tears as I read your poem. It was what God meant for me to read today. Thank you. I get it.

  23. I "get" it. In fact, I recently came across something very similar posted in a Portland (OR) coffee shop. It is from a poet called Rumi and was written many hundreds of years ago. Here is here take on what life shares with us:

    Rumi - Guest House

    This being human is a guest house
    Every morning a new arrival.
    A joy, a depression, a meanness,
    some momentary awareness comes
    as an unexpected visitor.
    Welcome and entertain them all!
    Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
    who violently sweep your house
    empty of its furniture,
    still treat each guest honorably.
    He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
    The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
    meet them at the door laughing,
    and invite them in.
    Be grateful for whoever comes,
    because each has been sent
    as a guide from beyond.


  24. Carita Witmer11/29/2011 6:40 PM

    I totally get that. Thank you! That's the REAL Thanksgiving list...And it's something God has been trying to teach me recently to find all the gifts in life--even the "gifts" that have been given that don't feel like gifts.

  25. Dorcas, I 'get' it too. I'm glad you posted it. It is a mystery how giving thanks(especially for things very difficult and hard), ministers deeply to our hearts.

    Thanks for sharing!
    ~Susanna from KS

  26. What a very good reminder. I so needed to read that poem! Thank you.

  27. Nancy Ainsworth11/30/2011 8:47 AM

    Oh, Dorcas, I realized my husband just does not like poetry, so any writing I present to him in that form is already heading for a puzzled look on his face. It is just not his "thing". An engineer-type person, it has to be in a "here-it-is format. He is a marvelous writer himself so I just do not get this unappreciative stance towards poetry. "Must be something from his childhood" quote a Julie Andrews song.

  28. I hear you, sister. Loud and cuh-lear. It's a mystery I've not unraveled yet and, unfortunately, one that has this stubborn girl with red in her hair digging in her heels far too often.

    I'm trying, though. I'm trying. Sometimes the only thing I can do is say, "Holy Spirit, please just work out (the contentment of Christ or fill-in-the-blank with whatever is needed) in me, because I cannot do it by myself."

    I'd love to share this, well, understanding over coffee (me) and tea (you) sometime. Maybe one day?

  29. Dorcas-- I truly, truly understand. We're also in one of those tough spots you can't just "put on display", and from something you said in a previous post, I'm suspicious our tough spots are similar. Just this morning, I was telling a friend who is also in a hard time of life, "God sees, and He understands, and cares!" Keep praying and trusting. Keep giving thanks, and keep being brave enough to write. SOMEbody's GONNA "get it"! I was moved to tears. -PC in VA

  30. I completely got it the first time around. It was a great encouragement to me as well.

  31. Ever since you posted and then reposted this I keep meaning to comment and tell you how MUCH I "got" it.

    Totally, totally, totally.

    That side of you is much less confusing that it may seem :)

  32. thank you so much for that! i started reading your post mere minutes before i found out some very disappointing news. while its disappointing, the Lord has a met a need. just not the way i wanted it to be done. and alas, you have helped me to not just 'not complain' but to remember to be thankful for it as well. thank you!