Kleshas and Tanhas

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A Lesson in Thanksgiving

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Clouds are gathering as the sky turns grey. There’s a storm arising. Dukes, princesses, lords and ladies join in the King’s Great Hall. Queen Barbara announces the festivities for the next Holy Day from her throne. The fire crackles with Let’s Make a Deal, hosted by Wayne Brady. The jousting would interfere with the archery contest. So Queen Barbara puts it to her court: “Do we celebrate the feast on Tuesday as initially planned, or

Wednesday, a more convenient time for Lady Caroline?” Lightning crashes heavily outside the windowpane. The wind howls menacingly. Lady Gladys speaks: “Wednesday would be fine.” The hall goes silent; her words echoing off the high rafters. I, as Jack the Jester, am at a loss of words to make light of what she just said. Tuesday was the originally set date; the distance between the dukedoms and earldoms are too far away for such a sudden change in plans to take smoothly. “But my son, the Prince of SomewherenotPhiladelphia is coming for Tuesday!” says Princessa de le Philadelphia Nord. Hell is in the air; it has seeped through the castle’s foundations. We are on the brink of an outbreak of total war.


Don’t EVER screw with the elderly’s schedule! I have learned that lesson from waiting tables for an older patronage. This past week at Mercy Neighborhood Ministries, I relived the reasons why you do not upset their calendar. Aye, the lords and ladies are typically more irritated by change as social conventions and stereotypes suggest. But when more fairly judged, I came to realize that many of these folks do not have their own means of transportation to get to and from MNM. Quite a few of them are rolled in on palanquins carried by loyal knights. Arriving from all parts of Ciudad Philadelphia, some of the lords and ladies come from their own manors while others come from townships (nursing homes) where there exists an even more regimented schedule.

Jack the Jester might not have his own mount, but he does have his own two feet and an abled body. What is something to be thankful for this holiday? Freedom! Maybe not so much in the William Wallace sense, but more along the lines of just being able to walk where I want when I want to. Incredibly simplified, yes, but you cannot access everywhere in a wheeled (palanquin) chair, especially in Philadelphia. Even if the most abled-body knight were to attempt traversing le vias and les rues of the city, he would not make it far in the cobblestone streets. So that would be number one on the list for what I am thankful for this upcoming holiday, the freedom of mobility that my body gives.

Two would be the freedom from a regimented schedule I had no control over. Aye, Jack the Jester attends classes at set time intervals, yet Jack the Jester is trying to learn a more profitable trade to earn a more decent living. Though a fool, he understands well enough that education is his only shot of making it in the feudal world of the 21st century. I make the conscientious effort every day to work on a little something Jack the Jester calls self-improvement. While the lords and ladies of MNM have the wonderful opportunity to also partake in this self-improvement in the Great Hall, I couldn’t say what their home and other activities would have to offer. Maybe they do return to Mansfield Park. Maybe they don’t. But if they don’t have any means of transportation, save for the wheeled palanquins, I can’t reckon they get around to as many things as they would like to. Number two on the list for what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving is the array of choices I have been given.

Jack the Jester


While the two blessings above seem to derive from me contrasting my haves to their have-nots, everyone can be thankful for family. Broken families, divided families, whole families, young families-all families. While I could say that my number three was family, (which I am most-definitely grateful for!) would have no direct correlation to my experiences at MNM. What I have witnessed there is they joy on Princess Virginia’s face when her daughter and granddaughter walk into the Great Hall. It has been said one can see people’s face light up when they’re ecstatic. I’ve seen more than that when family members visit the earls and duchesses at MNM. In Princess Virginia’s case, her face not only glows, her speech becomes angelic. (She, I have guessed, has suffered from a stroke and can communicate through atypical sounds.) While she can sound happy when my service learning partner suggests Philadelphia as a state in a game of listing states and their capitals, that happiness doesn’t even fall on the chart of her joy when her offspring waltzed in unexpectedly. So, my third truth to be thankful for this week is that everyone comes from somewhere; a mother and a father. While the list of complications and issues between family members that I listed above differs for each family, people don’t spring out of holes in the ground!


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