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Each Monday, Tommy Tomlinson delivers thoughtful commentary on an important topic in the news. Through these perspectives, he seeks to find common ground that leads to deeper understanding of complex issues and that helps people relate to what others are feeling, even if they don’t agree.

Saying blessings at Thanksgiving for those rare moments of peace

Give thanks
Priscilla Du Preez

The other night some friends of ours celebrated their anniversary. They had a party at a little farm out near the Cabarrus County line. The guys who run the farm had built a fire pit at the edge of the yard, next to a pond.


One of the guys had been in the Scouts and he built a beautiful crosshatched stack of logs, and for a few minutes the fire was so hot we had to back up a foot or two. But then it tapered down and we sat around the fire in Adirondack chairs or on bales of straw. We told stories or talked about current events but mostly we just stared at the fire as the moon climbed into the sky.

It was the most peaceful moment I’d had in the last two years.

That kind of moment is what I think about now when I think about Thanksgiving. I’m always thankful for family, for home, for the means to pay the bills. I know some people aren’t so fortunate.

But this year, especially, I’m thankful for those things that can pull me out of the daily whirlwind — the never-ending battles over politics and culture and how we respond to a deadly virus.

All those things are important, and we ought to stay engaged. But there’s so much going on that it’s increasingly hard to disengage. That’s why I’m so thankful for the things that ease my mind and warm my heart.

Here are just a few that have done the trick for me over these last anxious years.

The beach at sunset, when the people leave and the birds arrive and the waves play as soft as brushes on a drum kit.

A long drive out of the city, far enough from the big buildings that you see a cow or two.

Finding a new version of “Wichita Lineman” on YouTube.

Working the New York Times Spelling Bee, even though I never get enough words to make me Queen Bee for a day.

A long shower with the water turned up as hot as I can stand, aimed at the back of my neck.

That first breath of morning as I step outside the door.

I realize this might be the oldest-sounding commentary I’ve ever done. I’m just this side of settling down with a cup of tea and the Saturday Evening Post.

But the truth is, these are some of the things that keep me young. The constant tension on the other side of it — that’s what ages me.

That tension can’t be avoided if we’re going to confront our problems and solve them. But getting away is more than a break. It’s a way of visiting a different world — a world we’d like to spend more time in.

I’m thankful, this Thanksgiving, for those little vacations. And I hope more than usual that in the midst of everything, we’re all able to find a moment or two of grace.

Tommy Tomlinson’s On My Mind column runs Mondays on WFAE and WFAE.org. It represents his opinion, not the opinion of WFAE. You can respond to this column in the comments section below. You can also email Tommy at ttomlinson@wfae.org.

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