Ash Heaps and Thanks Heaps


The Canadian Thanksgiving is the perfect day to stop and be conscious of the many blessings received this year. Where do I begin? Of course, I start with the Creator who has accompanied me through all of this. From there all blessings flow and thus, I start with three simple words: Thank You, God.

The Trinity, and the team of mystics and angels that accompany them, have given me a strong faith. Many petitions have been raised to the great cloud of witnesses, holy men and women, saints from of old. I am very grateful for my own faith, steeped in Ignatian spirituality, and that of those who have supported me, both alive and beyond. When I cannot carry myself, I have let myself be carried by words and prayers, and through love and peace. God continues to have this; I know this to be true at my depths.

Today’s Thanksgiving Readings were beautiful. Colossians 3 reminds us not once, but twice, to be thankful. The Gospel Reading is a favourite, with strong memories of comfort: Ask, seek, knock. God will not give you a snake. We need to ask for good things. I have through this cancer maze kept asking so many of you to pray. Prayer is on the thanks heap.

The Responsorial Psalm (113) states that God raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap. In my imagination, I review my year and see the ash heap as a black smouldering pit that reduces in size while the growing thanks heap is filled with brightly coloured leaves that have fallen as I have let go of many things, but still maintain joy and gratitude. God has raised me from the dust and is lifting me from the ash heap.

I am thankful for amazing grace and marvelous miracles. I appreciate the beauty balms of walking through the summer sunshine and the autumn foliage, of the creativity of adult colouring books, and of music that soothes the soul. I love the warmth of the shower on my traumatized body, the smell of oils that heal, and the taste of healthy food.

I am blessed by memories that accompany contact with friends who have been in my life for varying amounts of time, some for almost 50 years. The ability of the mind to transport me anywhere in the world so that I am once again in the presence of a person is remarkable. Of course, technology is another blessing that with a couple of clicks, I can arrive in the living room of a dear one. I look often at my graced history and am humbled that my life has had such tremendous goodness sprinkled lavishly throughout it.

This list of the thanks heap is not in any particular order now, and so to it, I add the gift of family, both immediate and extended, blood and soul. We often cannot pick our family members and this year I am grateful for each one as they are, with the ability to see how each one has stepped up to the plate and brought all that they could for me when I needed it the most. The transformation in some cases has been a small miracle, and my own ability to be open and draw better boundaries has been surprising at times.

The medical teams that have been with me since September of last year are worthy of a standing ovation. From the receptionists to the health care aides to the lab techs to radiologists, and cleaning staff, from the surgeons, family practioners, and oncologists, to the variety of nurses, to the social workers, to the nutritionist, and even to the security staff, I have mostly been treated with immense compassion and quality care. To those who have accompanied me to scans, tests, procedures, surgery, and chemotherapy, you have been a life line and a calming presence. To those who helped me keep family and friends informed while I was unable to, you served both me and them the gift of peace. To those who have fed me and gifted me with a variety of presents and words, I bow to your generosity.

For life which continues to course through these veins with intent and passion, I embrace the goodness and thank you for each minute I have left here on earth. May it turn into decades and may I never say that I do not like aging.

For resilience that leaves me gobsmacked, I humbly acknowledge that paired with the ability to remain joyously hope-filled, it is a life force that the Divine Dealer dealt to me in abundance. For hope, joy, peace, and love, thanks be to God.

For my body, which continues to fight almost fearlessly against all that has come its way, I salute you. You are a warrior. Your time in the trenches has been extended and you are a trooper. I long to treat you with a glorious surprise when this is all done.

I could continue at length. What am I ungrateful for? I hope not much. I hope that I can always see the blessings and know that in the frame of mutuality that I too am a blessing. The ash heap is not my focus. The thanks heap is. May you too count the ways in which your life has purpose and joy. May you know all the goodness that life has to offer and may your heart always be grateful for that.



Reflection Questions

What is in your ash heap this Thanksgiving? Do you see the hand of God extended to lift you from it?
How high is your thanks heap? Has God received your gratitude for that?

Generous Giver,
You cannot be outdone
I do not even know where to start
How can I thank you
other than by living and serving you?
May I always be grateful for
the abundant gifts, blessings and mercies
received without reservation.
Thank You, God.


About sstyves

A Canadian prairie girl rooted in Ignatian spirituality, I seek God in all things. Whether I catch a glimpse of the Divine and delight in its presence in nature or in the beauty of an encounter with someone, I am ever so grateful that I can recognize the Creator. I greet each new day with hope and happiness, expecting blessings and miracles because I am created to praise, love and serve God. This blog is one way of realizing that through my writings, prayers, and photography. To God be the Glory!
This entry was posted in #BibleStories, #CancerSurvivor, #Consolation, #Miracles, #prayer, #Saints, Catholic, Christian, Faith, Ignatian, Spirituality and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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