Two weeks before Thanksgiving, my grandfather died, and we flew East on a jet plane. A couple days after that, I got the second job I had been praying for.
One week before Thanksgiving, the woman in front of me slammed on her brakes in rush hour traffic. I slammed on my brakes too, but not fast enough. I felt metal on metal, my first car accident, and I cried.
A day after that, I went with Josh to trivia night and won an entire Thanksgiving dinner, complete with a twelve-pound turkey, and I laughed.
Maybe life is always a rhythm of give and take, gain and loss, blessings and wounds. Recently, they have come in such quick succession that it’s hard to believe. Even when things are taken, there is always enough.
When we moved to California, we sold or gave away most of what we had. “God will give us what we need,” I told people, even though most of the time I didn’t believe it. We bought a bed, a mattress, a couch, a dresser off Craigslist.
And then things appeared by the dumpster or in the laundry room, free for the taking. An upholstered easy chair. A desk and desk chair. A trash can. A television. An alarm clock. Every day, I walked to the mailbox, expectant, wondering what would be provided today. I gathered them daily, like manna. I cleaned them off with the vacuum or soap and hot water. And we brought them inside our home.
“I’m waiting for God to bring us our dining table,” I joked to Josh. A few days later, I opened an email from a couple in our graduate Christian group. “We’re giving away our dining table and chairs,” it read. We drove there and came back with a DVD player, antenna, and TV stand, too.
I lift up my eyes. I am waiting for the next great provision.
The day before Thanksgiving, the mechanic leaves a message on my voice mail. “We’re able to fix your car,” they tell us. It will take two weeks, but it is covered. No new car needed. Thank you, I say.
The day before Thanksgiving, I stop at the apartment complex office. “Here is your turkey,” they say, and hand me a twelve-pound bird. We won’t eat it for Thanksgiving–a friend is cooking the bird–but we will freeze it to eat later, roasted, in soups, ground up into turkey burgers and meatballs. I put away each of the cans and boxes they have given us–mashed potatoes, yams, stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce. We will eat them for dinners through the next few weeks. Who knew my knowledge of useless facts could get us dinner? I laugh. Thank you, I say.
The day of Thanksgiving, we drive to a friend’s house. The graduate Christian group is meeting for Thanksgiving dinner. We eat appetizers, play games, and laugh. And when it is dinner time, others stream in, cram into the apartment living room. We came to California knowing no one, and now we sit and laugh, with turkey and stuffing, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie, spring rolls and Korean noodle salad and Thai soup.
Every day, the manna falls, and every day, I go out and gather. Thank you, I say. Thank you.