A different Thanksgiving...

One of the joys of living "in" a churchyard, is that history is all around us....
For instance, this is the family that once lived in our house...

& as well as thinking what an appalling summer the Brooks family had in 1824...2 children gone within a month....it also brings home the transience of our existence. I sometimes think that we humans in the so-called First World are so concerned with accumulating and owning 'stuff'....houses, cars, jewellery.....that we forget that we are really only ever guardians of these things.

Our family is having to come to terms with such realities at the moment. My darling Dad has terminal cancer. We are all trying to find the best way to cope and still find a way to carry on with life day to day, as we all must. I found this wonderful piece of writing in Volume 8 of one of my favourite magazines, Kinfolk and it affected me so much that I wrote to the author, Rebecca Parker Payne to ask her permission to reproduce part of it here. She graciously agreed and I hope that it will touch you as it touched me. Life really is a series of highs and lows...this piece continues to bring me infinite comfort and remind me that there is beauty in all things.

" Furthermore, Japanese understand this concept within another framework called mono non aware. Literally translated as "the pathos of things", mono non aware is the understanding that the most beautiful moments of life come right before the moment ends. In a full acceptance of the transient and temporal state of life, the Japanese don't hold much appreciation for an eternally blossoming flower. Instead, the greater beauty comes within the constraints of our yearly life and death rhythms. Mono non aware calls us to sit below the cherry blossoms as the tree sheds it's blooms. It tells us not to lament the passing of summer, but to rejoice in it's final hours.
We are creatures capable of awe and reverence. And we can position ourselves and our hearts to feel heavy and wonderful things. But to choose to see the beauty in the passing is no easy task. We must first cast off our illusions of control, and then we must take a step back and prepare ourselves for the full spectrum of pathos - love, beauty, loss. Perhaps then we will see all the gold that doesn't stay as beautiful instead of defeatist.
Mono non aware tells us to love now. Act now. Be here now. Invite our friends over, and stay up late. Because this time, this opportunity, this season will soon pass. Bask here while it is still possible.
Our days are ebbs and flows. Our lives are a collection of seasons where tides approach and recede, and trees flower and wither. The green fullness of summer is made more precious by the skeleton branches of winter. So don't fight time and don't fight the season. Don't keep things from ending, but celebrate them for the life they have now.
Our lives are rife with endings- the close of an evening or the triumphant finality of summer's last stand. If we reorient our hearts to accept and appreciate these endings, we begin to see our lives outside our limited terms- not only for our wanton control and desires, but also for mankind as a whole. Time is not ours. We can't slow the Earth's rotation, and we can't expect a wedding celebration to last forever.

I want to respect that which is larger than me - the sun that rises in the East and sets in the West, the gravity that keeps my feet perpetually on the ground below and the rhythm of time that says to all creation: this too shall pass. "

Life is wonderful and constantly amazing.Friends and family are priceless. For all of this, for all of you....I am so thankful.

Have a great day. Make memories! X


  1. Oh my dear, "the pathos of things", but perhaps more likely, mono extremely truly aware. Honoring the rhythm of time, it's all true and amazing that even the loss is beautiful in the larger picture of life. Happy Thanksgiving my dear friend, thank you for this. Have you ever put your forehead against that of another friend in an unspoken exchange of information and solidarity? That's how I feel with you now, forehead to forehead. Extra hug today for your mom. xoxo

  2. Dear Rachel
    have read your Blog on and off, but can't remember commenting before......have always enjoyed your writing about your walks, trips out etc, and baking.....used to read when you baked for a 'coffee shop'.
    So sorry to hear about your Father, and know what a close Family you have.
    I have been dealing with Mouth Cancer and treatment for the last couple of years, doing OK!, but tend to spend time on here, especially now the days are short, and unable to be Gardening (a Garden lover like yourself)


  3. I am so sorry to hear about your father. I went through this with my dear husband and understand all the feelings you are going through. Thanksgiving is particularly difficult for me as it was the last meal we were all together., Courage ......you will get through it but it is so hard and cherish every moment. My thoughts and prayers are with you. x

  4. My dear sweet friend...sending you lots of love, big hugs. Your post is beautiful and so are you! At Thanksgiving, giving thanks for YOU .....Sherry xoxo

  5. I was happy to see you blogging again, then knowing about your dad... Beautiful and thoughtful post, thanks for sharing.

  6. Rachel, your words today rang with me. I'm so sorry about your Dad. I lost my dear sister 4 years ago today-Thanksgiving. It's not difficult for me to celebrate the wonderful life my dear sister shared with me and many others. Cherish every moment. Love to you and yours at this time. xoxo ♥

  7. HUGS dear across the ocean~close in heart friend. I'm reaching out to touch your hand and to draw you close. Thank You for your encouragement through life changing realities of your own. The strengths and frailties of life all wrapped up, only to be unwrapped and shared together. Love to you and to your family this Thanksgiving. I'm so glad to know you... Georgie

  8. Rachel, I am so sorry to hear of this news. I have also read your blog for years and have enjoyed stories of your life and family. I have a sense of how close you all are and my heart goes out to you. Stay strong and enjoy every moment. It's the memories that will be with you forever. Sending love and hugs your way. I will keep you in my prayers ♥

  9. Speaking of a blog being brilliantly written and oh so eloquent. What beautiful words Rachel and spoken from the heart! I lost my Aunt Christine this week. Her memorial service is tomorrow. Thank you for these timely thoughts. You have said soooo much in one entry. It truly spoke to my heart. "First cast off our illusions of control" Will do!! "The green fullness of summer is made more precious by the skeleton branches of winter." LOVE it! Thank you! Have both your Dad and your family in my thoughts and prayers. HUGS!!

  10. Dearest Rachel,
    I have always admired your strength, courage and optimism; even more so now than ever before. Thank you for sharing that excerpt from Rebecca Parker Payne. I agree wholeheartedly with her words and your sentiments. There is beauty in all things and we must appreciate that beauty at every stage, even at its end. Thank you for this lovely post. Your words really hit home for me because as you know we are dealing with a similar situation in our family. Thank you, sweetie. Keeping you and your family in my thoughts. Love you! xoxo

  11. Lovely and profound words to remember each day.

  12. The words mono non aware I will keep with me forever. I feel just as the author, enjoy each moment, live in the moment. I am so sorry to hear of your father's illness but know you will be strong and gather your family near to see this challenge through and be in the moment. Wish I was near to comfort you with many hugs. Thank you for sharing the words of Ms. Payne and may they continue to comfort you. xoxo

  13. Dear Rachel,
    Thank you very much for sharing those words with us, and with which I agree so very much! I have your Dad, and you and your family in my prayers. (Does your family know what a great blogger you are?) Hugs across the miles to you, my dear, I think the world of you.
    Kay xx

  14. Oh my goodness sweet Rachel; I must concur with Susan that the forehead to forehead image is one of great connectedness. I am so very sorry for this news. You are so real in your relationships to those around you, both living and past. We all fear the unknown....what comes tomorrow, what comes of this choice or that. Reality is, in fact, much more frightening and yet so revealing to us of 'what now' and how to deal with it, cope with it, and move on with it, whatever 'it' is. Your words are poetic; your words are comforting and your words are everyone's. You borrowed them, but they are yours...you hold those thoughts as a truth to hang on to when these parts of life are in our own living rooms. Please know that I am closing my eyes and seeing you, hearing you, and knowing that you will do all you can to comfort each of his days and help your mum with this very difficult part of her life as well. I am so very sorry for this terrible pain and I send you hugs and thoughts of peace.
    Joann in CO

  15. Dear Rachel, how fortunate your father is to have a loving support system. I hope it will ease some of his pain, and that you will all experience many moments of love and peace together. The quote you shared here put a lump in my throat and softened some of the rough edges I which have accumulated in my heart over the past year. Thank you so so much for sharing it.
    Sending you love and a tight embrace,

  16. Oh Rachel-this is the first I'm seeing this. I guess this is what began with his foot? I'm very sorry to hear about this news as I know how much he means to you. Yes to me in a way it's a better alternative than the dementia he struggles with also. We all let go at some point, and a slow, mindless exit is not a more life-affirming choice. In every life ends come, and for the person exiting it's far less painful than for those left behind missing and yearning for more.

    The quote you posted reminded me of my favorite poet, Wallace Stevens, who wrote death is the mother of beauty, that here on earth there is always movement, movement leading toward death. Nothing remains at a moment of perfection (as in heaven) but is ever changing from first breath to last, and in that is its glory. I always see life as a path of individuality culminating in a return to spirit, which is blended and ultimately more comforting. Not oh he's with the lord now or that rot, but a merging with the infinite. Not that any of that would make you feel better. It's a rite of passage that is terrible and no way to make it nicer other than to think at least he will still know you and still be all of himself.

    Sunday Morning

  17. Oh Rachel I'm so sorry to hear of this--I didn't see this blog before. I know how much you love your dad and long to have him with you always. Yet to me it seems a better choice than the dementia with which he also struggles. At least now he will always know you and choose a mindful exit more than a mindless lingering. I know that doesn't help you much with the pain you feel, and this is a rite of passage we all must endure and there is no way to do so without pain.

    The passage you quoted reminded me of Sunday Morning, by Wallace Stevens, my favorite poet. Here's the link

    Sending good thoughts and hugs to you and the family. The Buddhists are right about living in the moment. It's the best time of all.

  18. Dear Rachel, There is much wisdom in Rebecca Payne's words. I hope your father and all that love him will find comfort in them.

  19. So sorry about your Dad. A family member's illness can consume you. I love the authors words and it reminds me of my friend's Dad. He had terminal cancer and he called/ visited every person he knew and reminisced and thanked them for being in his life. Even the woman he bought coffee from every day and the mailman. My friend said his last days were peaceful and content.

  20. Dear Rachel, You and your family are in my thoughts at this time. In December my father who is 93 and has been dealing with dementia for the past 10 years, suddenly became so ill we feared the worst. He has rebounded slightly and we are fortunate to have him with us for a while longer. Rebecca's words do bring comfort and enlightenment at a time when we are wondering how to cope with eminent loss of someone who has always been a part of our lives.


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