The Autumn Blaze maple in the backyard spreads its glory across the wildflower garden for most of the month of October. While the vegetable and wildflower beds have withered and the tree withdraws into its winter coma, I am blessed with beauty at every turn. Then the rain comes, and the leaves scatter across the grass, laying down a layer of compost for next year. I savor the splendor of a season well-lived, of plans made and revised, of goals reached and not reached. My life in this quiet place is tied to the land and the turning of the year.

Back inside, I turn on the television and that sense of well-being and goodness crumbles under the onslaught of breaking news. Carnage, atrocity, hate — from Israel and the Gaza Strip to an active shooter horror in Maine. The good lies wilting on the ground while the ugly comes out to play. Halloween…Samhain…All Saint’s Day…Trick-or-treaters in costumes both fun and creepy. I hand out candy as my heart and soul ache and the world struggles. I strain to pierce the thin veil separating life from death, light from dark, to find the good among the fog of sadness and despair. We tumble into November, uncertain about which path to walk.

Here in the midwest, the sun wanders in and out of gloomy days, like the spark in a dying fire. And then, we give thanks. We fill the airports, load cars with suitcases and pies, travel cross country or cross nations to join together for one glorious day – Thanksgiving, a holiday to celebrate tradition and roots and create a false narrative of how it was so that we can believe in how it might be.

We set aside differences and journey toward one feast, where good can triumph over past rancor…if only for one day. There, around a table or in a restaurant or by the ocean, or on top of a mountain, we recite the family stories, the bonds of friendship and love. Some of us sit alone and wait for another to extend a hand, share a heart, to reach what is good. In that, there is hope, one I cling to while the bad rages and my unquiet soul quakes

May the coming season of holidays and giving inspire you to seek only the good. Let me know if you need a hand up.