Contemplative Photography & Reflections

Where Love Sets a Table

I want to take this opportunity to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving if you celebrate. I also want to thank you for reading or subscribing to my blog and sharing this journey called life. I bare my heart and soul here in my writing while searching for metaphors in the natural world and trying to view personal challenges from a spiritual angle, in hopes that sharing my journey will be uplifting or insightful to you in some way. Mary Oliver wrote: “Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” It is advice I take seriously!

To be honest, I haven’t been feeling up to celebrating the holidays this year. It’s the second year without my mom, and holidays will never be the same. She died three and a half years after her own mom died, and the loss of the matriarchs has put a serious dent in holiday celebrations. Technically, I am now the matriarch, but I guess I haven’t been ready to embrace that role yet. Grief is still rather fresh, and our family is still trying to figure out how to pick up the pieces and move on. This includes where and with whom to celebrate, given the various complexities of family life when divorce, grief, and other dynamics are part of the picture.

But I suppose the bottom line is that everybody has their own version of stuff like this going on and that holidays with family can be a balancing act between what is comfortable, what is expected, and what is “right” (compassionate and wise). Ram Dass said, “If you think you are enlightened, go home for Thanksgiving.” Funny but true!

As I wandered in and out of blue this week contemplating the realities and logistics of the upcoming holidays, I caught the following words drifting through the air:

Go where you are invited. Cook for whoever shows up. Where love sets a table and invites you to eat, that’s where you belong. Go to the table that love has invited you to, and feast. Be grateful for what you have and for who shows up, and don’t let that gratitude be overshadowed by mourning who or what is missing. Arrive with something to share, but most of all, bring your best, most loving self.

Holiday logistics can get complicated, and the complications tend to get me down year after year. But I finally realized that what’s most important is to celebrate with your tribe, even if it must be done on a different day than the actual calendar holiday. If there are too many places people need to be, and you can’t fit a proper celebration into one day, then why not celebrate Thanksgiving on another day? That way, the love can flow without anyone feeling rushed, disappointed, resentful, or guilty about already being full from another meal. Sometimes you have to think outside the box to make room for the love that wants to flow in your life.

I also feel inspired to mention that it’s hard when the people you love aren’t around to celebrate with you because they are no longer of this world. But it can be even harder when loved ones who are still alive are absent, such as in the case of divorce, breakup, estrangement, illness, etc. If that is the case with you, please know that you’re not alone.

There may be people we really wish we could celebrate holidays with, but for whatever reason, it can’t happen at this time. A particular friend comes to mind who is going through excruciating heartache very similar to something I experienced years ago. I am wrapping this beautiful soul in as much love and light as I can muster.

Today is a day to for gratitude, and perhaps in time, we can even be grateful for the tough times and the challenging relationships that ultimately help us to grow our compassion, understanding, and wisdom and to be of greater service to others.

Although it saddens me that my beautiful friend is in such pain, I am grateful that my own experience allows me to be more present to her and to have faith that she will get through this difficult chapter with even more light to offer the world. As I struggle with my own personal issues that sometimes feel overwhelming, I remind myself that the hard work I’m doing now will allow me to be even more helpful to others in the future. I just have to choose to continue doing the work rather than throw in the towel when it comes to growing my soul. The work will get done because the part of me that wants to evolve is stronger than the part that is content to stay stuck. At some point, there will be resolution, empowerment, and no more tears. No matter what the personal outcomes will be, greater compassion for others is a certain payoff and one that is worth the work.

One thing I know is that when I think of others around the world who feel the same way, a portion of my sadness transforms into compassion, and I just want to radiate love and positive energy, hoping it will travel to them on a ripple in the energy field and ease their pain. So if you happen to be someone who is suffering, I hope you feel it. I’m giving an extra push in your direction!

Whether Thanksgiving is a joyous celebration or a trigger for unresolved issues resurfacing (or varying degrees of both), may we make room for the miracle of gratitude – for blessings large and small and for the table set by love and those who show up around it, whether literally or metaphorically. May we be fully present at the table we are invited to and to those who accept our invitation and company – for what matters most is where we are, rather than where we are not. On this day, may we focus on the abundant blessings and goodness in our lives, rather than on who or what is missing.


The photographs in this blog (except for those attributed to other owners) and in my Flickr photostream are available for purchase as prints or cards through my Etsy shop by selecting a “custom print” in whatever size you prefer and indicating either the name of the print or the blog post and order in which it appears.

© Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material, including all text and photos, without express and written permission from this website’s author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Susan Meyer and River Bliss Photography ( with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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