Every November as the world turns us closer to Thanksgiving Day, my bones feel a pull. That is a pull south to the northern sections of North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
For years, our family spent Thanksgiving around the small town of Duck. With the passing of my father-in-law in the spring of 2013, that annual excursion came to an end. But, the memories of those stays in Duck still pull at me.
Driving down US 460, the small farming communities fade into fall sunlight. But, large fields of bright cotton standout in that landscape. Peanut farmers and their wares are abundant on either side of the highway, and cars still fill the parking lot at the always popular Virginia Dinner.
Once across the North Carolina state line, the land continues to flatten out. In many instances yards and some shrubs have faded to hues of khaki after being frost bitten. But, the sturdy green of collards growing in some small gardens are brushed in along the way.
That quiet pull to the Outer Banks is also tied to surf fishing. I always fished, from early in the morning to late in the afternoon. I fished a lot, didn’t catch much, but helped to keep the local bait shop in business for another year.
Even as I’m writing this, my mind is pulling me down to the beach to set up my fishing spot. I can smell the salt air, hear the smack of waves against the wet sand, and see the sun slowly rising up out of the Atlantic.
I cherished that quiet time. My daydreams might have been broken by the sound of shore birds scouring the ocean’s surface for a wayward fish. I marveled at the effortless glide of the pelicans. Secretly, I wondered what it would be like to drift away with them.
That Thanksgiving after 9/11, I wondered about those families who had lost a loved one in that senseless act of terrorism. I can only attempt to imagine the challenges they experienced.
This year, I wonder about those in our country who were impacted by two mean hurricanes, and now the tragedy of the massive wildfires in California. Recovery for some Americans in these extremely challenging circumstances might not even be possible.
Along with those natural disasters, I can’t forget the senseless acts of violence created with firearms. Again, more lives are altered throughout America.
I don’t know about you, but there are times that I want to scream out at God, “What are you doing up there? Aren’t you tired of all of this suffering? Help us!!”
Maybe God thinks we are beyond help. After all, God has a long history of helping people out. Then after a period of time these people become distracted. They lose their fear of God and move away from his teachings. Sadly, at times, I haven’t been immune from that path either.
In Gavin Edwards’ book The Tao of Bill Murray, he shares a story about Murray taking his sons out to Roosevelt Island. This tiny island is in New York City’s East River. Murray wants to get a sneak preview of a monument being constructed that focuses on Franklin Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.
It’s the last one—freedom of fear that consumes a lot of my thinking. I’m not free from freedom of fear. It too is in my bones. I worry that our country can’t or won’t figure things out, that our differences will consume us, and then it will be too late.
On November 19, I heard a few minutes of an interview with author David Grann whose latest book is The White Darkness. This story is about Henry Worsley who in 2015 set out to walk across Antarctica alone. Worsley, a retired British Army officer served in the Special Air Service (SAS), an elite unit of commandos.
This unit of commandos had a quiet little motto from a James Elroy Flecker poem. The words were “always a little further.” For Worsley in his trek, those words were painted on his sled. David Grann states from his book that Worsley used those words like a mantra: “Always a little further… a little further.”
Those words to Worsley meant keep pushing, pushing a bit further. Those words were in Worsley’s bones, and I think I need them in my bones too.
I can’t let my bones be discouraged by fear, and in truth nor can any of us.
Those people impacted by hurricanes, wildfires, and senseless shootings need some hope in their bones, not more fear.
The only way to make that happen is for all of us to remember:
“Always a little further.”
This Thanksgiving, may I be thankful for all that I have been blessed with in my life.
But may the good Lord give me the resolve to always push a “little further” for those whose bones are filled with fear and loss of hope