that the de-icer was swift and effective in his work, that his spray-rig liberated the plane’s hydraulics to do their immense lifting and pushing down, and thank you that all the bits of rivet and metal and circuitry held together in their unified purpose, despite all physical odds, that they stayed singular and clamped tight as we accelerated up and out of a Wisconsin snowstorm.
Thank you that Grandma Mildred is alive at a hundred and happy in Mesa, Arizona, where it is so warm even at the end of November, and where the cacti look like people with their arms raised to the sky, and thank you that my three-year-old son noticed that, that he will see Mildred again, perhaps one last time, and that this tiny new daughter of mine will have her own brief moments in those ancient arms.
Thank you for Palaak Paneer and Chana Masala and for the friends who share these things with us at a too-high table, friends now in the desert who know the snow, who lift our children into the air and delight in them and withhold judgment when we place the eldest in front of a small screen to watch The Sandlot
for the sake of conversation, for connection, and thank you for connection.
Thank you for this place that has sustained Mildred all these decades and for which I’ve discovered a kind of unexpected love, for the sun-scorchedness and weirdness of it all, for its defiant survival in the middle of a valley comically unfit for human existence, and yet here she is, so frail, so alive, so happy to see us once more at the adobe door.
And thank you for these delicate, resilient bodies held together by some miracle of sinew and synapse, and thank you for how we all fit, my son dovetailed into my arms, me into my wife’s, my daughter into her great-grandmother’s, and how all these disparate souls feel so unified in purpose here, right now, the plural clamped into a singular despite all odds.
Josh MacIvor-Andersen is the author of the memoir On Heights & Hunger, and the editor of Rooted, An Anthology of Arboreal Nonfiction, both forthcoming from Outpost19. His essays, reviews, and reportage have won numerous awards and nominations for the Pushcart Prize, and can be found in journals and magazines such as Gulf Coast, Paris Review Daily, Fourth Genre, Arts and Letters and many others.
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To you who in my imagination (which is currently as close as I get to faith), don’t require belief as a prerequisite to unlock your attune, or to express gratitude from deep within the shadow of unbelief:
Also in The Waking
Like many writers, she wondered if she shouldn’t give up. Why were we squandering time and money on art that few, if any, would read? The answer, as always, is because we have to.
By now, however—as I approach my eightieth birthday—I am reconciled to the reality that I might never learn the answer to my question about the authorship of the lyrics. There are just so many questions, and so few answers, and so little time.
I knelt with strangers around a circular rail, and a living hand came and deliberately placed bread into my open palm, eyes met mine, and a voice assured me that this, the body of Christ, was for me. It was intimate and humbling and for the first time I had the sensation of actually being fed.