Thursday, November 27, 2008

Quyyatigiga...

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I've been taking a Conversational Inupiaq course this fall...via teleconference. Yeah. Learning a new language is challenging enough. Learning a new language over the telephone is downright amusing. Although I don't see myself emerging from the course a fluent speaker by any estimation, it has definitely been a good experience and I've picked up a great deal that I hope to build on in the future.

Our last class focused on words and phrases associated with Quyyavik, or Thanksgiving. Our instructor asked us to share what we were most thankful for. One by one, participants shared their blessings. Quyyatigiga iglukput...I'm thankful for my home. Quyyatigiga savagviga...I'm thankful for my job. Quyyatigiga avilaitqatiga...I'm thankful for my closest friend. I can't write "I'm thankful for my family" in Inupiaq because it requires a letter that is impossible to type with this program (a combination of n and g), but you get the idea. We all shared our thoughts and the sources of our gratitude.

All week long, I listened to people around me naturally talking about the things in their lives that they cherish. Prayers were given, feasts were eaten. Dishes were washed, dried, and put away. Yet, there was something in the back of my mind that I just couldn't express, something for which I'm grateful that wouldn't lend itself to words, much less an Inupiaq translation.

Then I looked back through some photos that I downloaded a while ago and it hit me. This is what I'm most grateful for.

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About a week ago I made some soup using one of those packages that boasts 16 different beans. Somewhere in the process of washing the beans, one of the tiniest ended up stuck to the side of the strainer in the sink. I'm not sure what it says about my housekeeping practices, but that bean must have remained there for several days being doused by the occasional flow of water from the faucet. I never even noticed it until the strainer happened to shift a little, exposing the seedling that you see in the photo.

At first, I laughed right out loud. Then amazement set in. Those of you who know me are painfully aware, I'm sure, that I make mountains out of molehills on a regular basis. I know it sounds crazy, but I don't care. Seeing this little plant was an encouragement and it illustrates something that I'm grateful for, but haven't been able to describe.

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Too often, I complain when my life feels hard or dry. I complain when I feel insignificant, lacking purpose. I complain when an unexpected splash sends my good intentions down the drain. I grow weary; I grow sad and I complain.

Homes, jobs, friends, even family...almost anything can be lost or out of reach.

But the tiny bean clinging to my sink strainer reminded me of something important that I often forget. I am overwhelmingly thankful for life's tenacious potential. The tenacity that prompts me to reach up and dig deep even when...especially when...light and soil seem far away.

So, to the One who has endowed even the most insignificant beans with that tenacious potential, with all my heart...

Quyyatigiga.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

I Know How He Feels

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It seemed simple enough.

Fly across the road...wheels spinning on packed snow, slide sideways to a full (and very cool-looking) stop at the porch, score some serious candy.

That was the not-so-well-thought-out plan.

Unfortunately, Halloween had one more trick up its sleeve.
In his enthusiasm, this trick-or-treater drove confidently off the road into snow that was
a little too deep,
a little too slick,
a little too...much for his four-wheeler.

While there may be nothing embarrassing about trick-or-treating when you're fifteen,
getting stuck is something else altogether (hence the nervous looking around).

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Eventually, a helping hand arrives to save the day...
and maybe a little face.

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There appear to be no other witnesses...
except for that irritating shutterbug on the porch!

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But getting un-stuck is substantially more difficult than it looks.

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Pulling backward doesn't help.
The only way out is
forward.

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I can relate.

I know how it feels to be
stuck,
unsure of what to do about it,
and embarrassed that others see me
spinning...my...wheels.

As I press forward,
I’m thankful...for friends
with good timing.

And I'm hopeful that no one around me…
carries a camera.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Different Strokes...

There's more than one way to bag some Halloween candy!

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But it may require a little more effort than you think.

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With faces as sweet as the candy...there's no way to lose.

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The school carnival is always good for a treat or two.

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You might even receive a ring from a handsome knight!

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But watch out for those ferocious animals!

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They're almost as frightening as the dancing!

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