Monday, November 1, 2010

When November Rolls Around...

...I like to turn Thanksgiving Day into Thanksgiving Month--hence, the 30 Days Thankful series that I've done in 2008 and 2009.  Each year, I like to choose a different focus for my expressions of gratitude.  The focus for the first year was, rightly, Jeff and all the various attributes of him that drew me--and continue to draw me--to him.  Last year, I chose to direct my thoughts towards happy memories from my childhood; and as I reminisced, I was renewed in my gratitude for the people and places that made my growing-up years so delightful.

And this year?
Encounters will be my theme.

By encounters, I mean events that happened to me, conversations with various people, books I've read, spiritual moments--anything that, although it might have seemed insignificant at the time, changed me significantly in some way.  Something which altered, in some way, the course of my life.  

Although I could find, in my memory bank, a handful of negative encounters which did indeed alter the course of my life(!), I will instead focus only on the positive and the things that I have learned through peaceful and beautiful moments.  Here's an example:

Encounter #1
It was the end of the school year, and my small private school was holding its annual awards banquet.  I can't remember exactly how old I was--somewhere in early middle school, I would guess--but I do remember who my teacher was:  Bruce Hollingshead.  One of the eagerly-anticipated parts of the awards banquet was a presentation to each student of a special character trait exemplified by that student, and a short explanation of why that character trait was given to him/her.  I usually got things like "Dependable"--perfectly appropriate for the nice, quiet, shy, sweet girl that I was.  But the year Mr. H. was my teacher--well!  He called my name during that awards ceremony, then told me that my character trait was "Courage."  Huh?  Was there another Davene in the room that he was talking about?  ;-)  Surely it wasn't me!  Courage???  That's crazy!

I don't remember all that he said that night, but I do remember him emphasizing that, even though that character trait of mine seemed hidden, it was there, and it was strong.  

Now as I look back over my life, I see what he knew all along:  God has given me the gift of courage.  Not that I never struggle with fear, because of course, I do.  But running through my veins, giving life and health to my soul, is courage.

Courage that says, "Yes, I'll speak in front of hundreds of people at a Back-to-School Night, even though I'm a new student here and hardly know anyone."

Courage that says, "Yes, I'll fly to Israel all by myself, taking three different flights to get there, traveling alone from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, to meet up with my study abroad group."  (I had stayed behind to be in the wedding of one of my dear college friends.)

Courage that says, "Yes, I'll marry you," to a passionate Californian whose upbringing was very different from my own.

Courage that says, "Yes, I'll go on vacation to Israel in the middle of scorching hot August...with a two-month-old baby."

Courage that says, "Yes, I'll pack up and move to Israel, leaving behind family and friends and all that's familiar...with a seven-month-old baby...right when the Iraq war is starting...and we're issued gas masks that we must carry with us everywhere."  Welcome to Israel, y'all.

Courage that says, "Yes, Jeff, I share your spiritual discontent.  Let's leave the familiar and journey into the unknown."

On that night long ago, when Bruce spoke the word "Courage" to me, I don't know if he was right and that courage was really there, or whether him speaking that into my life helped the tiny seed of courage to grow and develop.

Regardless, tonight as I pause to remember, I say,
"Thank You, God, for the courage in me that could only come from you."
and
"Thank you, Bruce, for looking past my timid exterior and somehow, improbably, seeing COURAGE within."  

3 comments:

Jeff Fisher said...

Yes, I too am grateful to God for your courage...you have made the best companion a man could ever ask for in the adventures of life. Courageous enough to go... but also courageous enough to say "no".... courageous enough to have convictions in an environment of compromise.

By the way, I really like the new header too!

mary bailey said...

Davene, I love this idea of 30 Days of Thankfulness! I hope you don't mind if I borrow a similar idea for my blog. What a wonderful way to revel in thanksgiving all month long! You are so clever, and so wise, and, yes, I see that courage in you. Thank you and bless you for sharing!

Leah said...

Do you read Ann Voskamp's blog, A Holy Experience? She is another courageous woman who doesn't always think that she is worthy of that description.. sometimes you remind me of her. : )
I think that those who are courageous in a "non-showy" way are the bravest of all.