A meditation on Psalm 107:1:
"Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever."
This week my wife and I talked about thankfulness.
"We take so much for granted in this world," she said.
"Yes. Can you imagine if we lived always thanking God for even the smallest things?"
I've been using Instagram as a microblog this year. I love the quietness of the space. I use it to capture memorable images and then I attach a spontaneous poetic reaction: a poem, a song, a mini-tale. The following are a few of the posts that remind me to give thanks.
Songs of Thanksgiving
We hosted our first annual Autumn Festival in our back yard. We invited friends and family, stoked up the fire pit, we potlucked-it, which means we all contributed food and drink and goodies. We let the kids run free in the back woods.
One friend made teepees for all the kids out of second hand fabric and cardboard poster spools. The occasion inspired a fictional song of thanksgiving, if there is such a thing.
The Second Acre Song of Thanksgiving
"Wawawah! We are the Lost Children of The Second Acre! Roar, Gawp, Gruffoo! We dance in the Autumn air, beneath its festival moon!
Oh, ho! We trollop over ant hills as we wave our S'more-snacks high! Our giggles shake the trees, our hearts warm the fire! Kockle-doodle-DOO, it's time to eat the night, and ride the rainbow-rise to the burning maple heights!
Ho! Ho! Look! Our Father comes now, the festival lights tremble! For he approaches in dance and song! Arise the good children of The Second Acre and fill the earth with his gladness. We are his dancers, and dance we do; eeeeyoooo, Roar, Gawp, Gruffoo!
Two reflections on being thankful for uninterrupted times of glee with my three daughters, whom I affectionately refer to as "the pixies."
And The Three
With glee I follow this one, and the three,
to the mountains and the trees.
I scoop them up like a buttercup caught in the breeze,
And run with them to the very edge of the seas.
These days of ours are not mere mortal hours of grind and toil.
They flare up each morning, a new seedling pushing thru immortal soil.
Rise up brothers and sisters, out from this enchanted slumber,
And seize the ever beautiful, ever loving day and add it to the everlasting number.
A Gathering Gesture
In the beauty of bulbs I gathered the pixies, luring them with marshmallows and chocolate. I set the ring ablaze, and watched their hearts, through their eyes, do the same.
Love is a gathering gesture. And beauty it's pulling reach. It's the sound that echoes into shadows, while we dance beneath the pine-ring-glow.
It's the violet pageant beyond the limbs, signaling advent stars. It's the movement of twilight wind, the hush of holy, taking us as far as we are.
On seeing myself as a smooth lake stone, staring up at the God who fashioned me:
I am the smooth stone beneath your glass.
The silent echo, seen, in your ripple.
I am waiting for the bear claw, the eagle clutch, to lift me from the residue of glory.
Though stone, I cry--out, for home.
Cobble me round your fires, stack me near the flames.
I want to scald this world while I burn to life.
Here I am! Beneath.
The Gift in Front of You
If you're still reading you might be asking what all these bits and pieces of thoughts have to do with giving thanks. It's an exercise, primarily for me, but I wanted to share it with you. Why? Because poetry, song, spontaneous prayer or thoughts, are all responses to something out there, something we encounter. Beauty rouses the aesthetic gasp, our joyful response.
I try to allow these moments to elicit a response in the form of words, and those words, form my thanks. They form it in the message of the words itself, and they form it in the form of the words, the written response.
This week, try to be aware of the moments in front of you. Keep your pen and Moleskine handy, or your phone. When you see something that stirs you, write it down. But don't just record it, respond to it. Perhaps a story forms in your mind, or a prayer. Write it down. Respond.
Giving thanks is first an awareness of the gift in front of you. And that awareness, if we're attentive, possesses the power to draw us toward one another and to God through our response.
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Timothy Willard is the author of five books, including Longing For More: Daily Reflections on Finding God in the Rhythms of Life and the forthcoming The Life-Giving Adventure of Chasing Beauty (Eerdmans, 2019). He has collaborated on over 20 books and has written, consulted and served as spiritual director for organizations such as Chick-fil-A, Catalyst, Q Ideas and Praxis Labs. When he’s not riding the trails in the Appalachian mountains you can find him by the fire with his three daughters and his wife making up stories about Tom the back yard badger. He lives somewhere in the south Charlotte woods.