Friday, November 25, 2011

lingering in Thanksgiving

The other day I heard the mind referred to as a sensorium. At first, I truly thought it was just a clever, made-up word conjuring some kind of fabulous arcade of the senses. I imagined a sensorium to be a Willy Wonka-like fantasy place where a person could pay admission and then wallow at will in stupendous, supersized experiences of hearing, sight, touch, smell and taste. But to be sure, I looked up sensorium and was surprised to find it defined by Merriam-Webster as 'the parts of the brain concerned with the reception and interpretation of sensory stimuli.' Which led me to the conclusion that we are all actually our very own sensorium. Sure, you can regard this purely in medical, psychological, physiological terms. Or . . . as an emporium requiring not one penny of admission, in which you are given the endless opportunity to revel, every blessed day of your life.

I'll take the latter. On a Thanksgiving platter.

The feast on any table pales in comparison to the feast of senses that is Thanksgiving. This is likely why we have such a collective affection for the homegrown holiday that happens on the fourth Thursday of November. Even though it is so rapidly railroaded by the Polar Express that I sometimes jokingly refer to it as Thanksmas. But that does such a disservice. To the sound of a loved one's voice. To the sight of a loved one coming through the door. To the softness of the dog's fur, the pungence of wet leaves, the hint of cinnamon and cloves in the pie.

This year Thanksgiving came on the heels of another daunting surgery for a best friend who has relinquished so much to cancer. He will never again run to catch a perfect spiral on the football field or labor years on end to build a perfect stadium. He can no longer lift the familiar weights at the Y, bales of pine straw for his vegetable garden or even the suitcases his youngest child will pack for college next fall. Each month seems to bring with it some fresh loss to which he simply responds with grace for the gift of another day. Another breath.

Some nights I lie awake so sad about it, trying to ward off that sleep robber, despair. And the only thing that brings me back to my senses is this idea of a sensorium. That even though everything may feel like loss, the senses have a mind of their own. To hear a friend's funny story. To see the full moon, touch a loved one's cheek, smell wood smoke and coffee brewing. To taste life. To these five, I would add a sixth, transformational sense. One which, if we are aware of it, has the power to elevate the other five to joy.

I'm talking about a sense of gratitude. That, when cultivated, makes every day Thanksgiving.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful Post! So sorry your friend is struggling. He will be remembered in my prayers.Thanks for your words of Love.