I love Thanksgiving. A whole holiday devoted to family, food, and giving thanks. Over the years, we have hosted our own big gatherings, with friends and family coming from afar and had so much abundance that we could literally re-create the whole event the next day.
So… it would be easy to feel lonely today. We miss those times. We miss our family and our friends. Instead, on this day, we become part of 500 people to receive the blessings of a free volunteer-run community dinner in Moab, Utah. After visiting with a Navajo family and two enthusiastic hikers who grab our notebook and write maps of all the places we must see, I get to write in the van, listening to Jack snore after his 4 mile romp with us up a slick rock canyon, and watching the day set over the cliffs before me. Ah so thankful.
On this trip, I am thankful for:
I am thankful for water. Traveling is dirty, and it amazes me how completely water can wash away the grime of daily life. It is like getting forgiven, over and over. I am thankful for western rivers and streams rolling across arid landscapes and through red rock canyons, for the hot and cold water offered freely at truck stops, for the majesty of Twin Falls, for hot springs in every form, for city fountains and the man-made streams that grace Salt Lake City.
I am thankful for whatever it is that is at work when our friend Kathy points us toward some friends in Salt Lake City. They graciously accept our visit, though they don’t know us. From, them, we receive a bed, break bread, and learn about the liberal side of Salt Lake City. Really? A big gay parade? Really? Wow. Good to know.
I am thankful for my loquacious husband who will ask anyone anything and though I am always trying to “polite him up”, it fails like all other schemes to change each other. So, on Temple Square, we meet two young ladies, ages 21 and 22. They are from Texas and Australia. You know how Mormons go to witness their faith all around the world? They described in great detail how it felt to get their packets from the Elders and how it could have been anywhere… Africa, South America…and theirs was Salt Lake City! After a remarkable conversation, they chased us down as we left the grounds to give us 2 free tickets to the theater production. We went. It was called Savior of the World. The title says it all. The singing and acting were great … the story classic. I am thankful for their gift, and that without hesitation, we participated in their “Divinely inspired job” by going. We also got to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearse!
ON this day, I am especially thankful for the amazing trails and public lands of Utah. On Thanksgiving Day, the tracks were filled with many families and hikers and dogs. I like that. I am thankful that I like that.
Typical encounter on the trail:
Little girl, holding her dad’s hand.
Steve: “Are you taking your father for a walk?”
Little Girl nods shyly.
Steve: “That’s so great. You take good care of each other. I used to have two little girls just like you. Now they are all grown up. Keep hiking with your dad.”
On and on it goes, like that—we meet the Swiss hiker who lives in Denver, the down-easterner from Maine who just moved to Utah to live near his kids, hikers older than us, and little ones on their parents’ backs, people sprinting up the trail and others using two hiking poles to navigate. Beauty is what we have all come to see: this holy ground. . . America’s Best Idea, the Public Parks and Spaces of America the Beautiful. I am thankful for the health and the means to do this grand adventure in a free and mostly safe country that supports public lands.
Last—but always first in my heart, I am so thankful for my home, my family, friends, and community.