Thanksgiving in the U. S. is exactly three weeks from today, so I think it’s only appropriate that I revisit some of my Thanksgiving poems from over the years — and maybe even write a new one.
This week I’ll begin the series with two: one quite serious and one just for fun. Hope you enjoy them, and if you’re one of my own countrymen, I hope they add to your expectations for a happy Thanksgiving celebration.
AH, THANKSGIVING, HOW I LOVE YOU!
Ah, Thanksgiving, how I love you!
Golden crowning jewel of Fall,
Beacon of warmth and cam’raderie,
Sending glad invitation to all:
“Gather to worship; gather to visit;
Gather to focus on all that’s worthwhile;
Feast from tables resplendent with harvest;
Feast on the love in a touch and a smile.”
All the year’s labors weigh heavy upon us.
All the world’s problems seem bigger by far.
But out from that wearisome struggle you call us,
And laying it down, we run to where you are.
And whether in cottages, mansions, or churches,
Community buildings, or tables in parks,
We gather with gratitude full – overflowing;
To the Giver of blessings lift voices and hearts.
Then we return to life’s pattern awaiting.
Filled up with joy, we set off on our way,
Warmer and richer and kinder in spirit
For pausing to celebrate Thanksgiving Day.
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
WHAT’S FOR DINNER?
I spot him there, behind the barn,
A full-plumed, regal bird.
He looks up, straight into my eyes.
I speak no single word.
It’s happened thus, in passing years —
At least for two or three:
Each mid-November I’ve set my mind;
He’s been there to greet me.
Now, lifting his head in challenge strong,
He gobbles loud and long.
I lower my gun and heave a sigh:
To kill him would be wrong!
So, wrestling with my double mind,
I trek home to my wife
To explain why, once again this year,
Ham will greet the carving knife.
I’m a musician. I play keyboard instruments mainly. Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of using my talents to entertain audiences, to minister as organist and choir director for two different churches, to help facilitate weddings and funerals for scores of families, to compose and orchestrate numerous songs, and to teach others to use their gifts and talents to bless the world with music from their own keyboards.
These days I rarely sit down to a musical keyboard. Instead, I’m nearly glued to the kind of keyboard that is attached to a desktop or laptop computer. For, you see, I’m also a writer. Now, some people feel that I have left music behind as I’ve devoted so much of myself to the writing. But you know what? I’ve discovered a truth that, ten years ago, I may not have even thought about:
I’ve discovered that music — true music — doesn’t come from a keyboard on a piano, an organ, or an accordion. Nor does it come from a horn, a guitar, a violin, or any other instrument. On the contrary, music comes from the soul. It’s the melody, the harmony, and the rhythm of life that courses through our beings and finds its release through any number of avenues. Frequently, it is released through instruments constructed for that specific purpose, but the music of the soul is also released through words.
I find that I’m releasing the music of my soul constantly as my fingers whisk over the letter keys of my laptop. I’m letting all those melodies, harmonies, and rhythms of life course through me to touch every reader. And when those readers are touched, my words create emotions, thoughts, actions, and reactions as surely as the strains of sound vibrating from a piano or a horn. I’m calling to and capturing the soul of the reader as surely as the chords from a guitar call and capture the soul of the listener.
It is not the instrument that creates the music. In truth, the music is created from the deepest part of our being and simply seeks an avenue — any avenue — of expression. So, personally, I believe I am offering music to the world through the words that flow from my soul onto the page as surely as I have offered it in the past from the keyboard that sent forth vibrations of sound.
In the early morning of October 23 — just 11 days from today — thousands of swallows will lift off the grounds of the San Juan Capistrano mission, circle the mission once, and begin their pre-scheduled 7500-mile flight back to their home city of Goya, Argentina. They will have spent 7 months at the mission, enjoying the warm climate and excellent food — and offering their share of the work to keep the eco-system in its proper balance — particularly by destroying about a billion insects. But it will be time to go home, and those swallows will not fail to leave at exactly the appointed moment.
Their visit to the centuries-old California mission began in Goya at dawn on February 18 — as it has every February 18 for at least the past 200 years. They arrived at Capistrano on March 19 — as they have for at least 200 years — and, yes, all the mission bells did ring, just as Leon Rene’s 1940’s song says. There is a great celebration at the mission every year, and thousands of people turn out to welcome the birds to their summer home. All events are planned well ahead of time because there is absolutely no doubt that these lovely swallows will be right on time.
Argentinian magazine correspondent Enrique Bermudez, who writes for Para Todos Magazine, has made a thorough study of the swallows. He says they fly most of their 7500 mile journey at an altitude of 6600 feet and fly at a speed of 18 miles per hour. His research shows that swallows are masters at following a flight plan that takes advantage of every favorable wind. And somehow, in spite of all kinds of unpredictable natural events, they arrive exactly at the appointed time on March 19, year after year after year. How awe-inspiring is that?
Well, it must be pretty inspiring for the majority of people because the event has been immortalized in word and song for decades now. Unfortunately most people any distance away cannot be present to celebrate the event, but most all of us have the privilege of witnessing a similar miracle right in our own back yards if we care to take notice. Most of us have “closer-to-home” birds that migrate north and south at exactly the right time every year — returning at the same appointed time when the seasons change. In my neck of the woods, the most prominent migratory birds are the geese, and their v-shaped flight patterns make designs across our skies for several weeks each fall as they follow their God-given homing devices to their places of winter refuge.
And so it is in every little burg and hamlet across the planet. Then when spring pops out from under winter’s blanket, ducks, geese, and birds of various sorts find themselves on the move again, and without fail, all the members of each species of bird know exactly where they are going. Just like the Capistrano swallows, they all have this built-in guidance system that we call “instinct.” It’s an internal radar, given to them by their Creator, that doesn’t fail to take them exactly where they need to go: south in the winter, north in the summer, and even to the highest rafters of the crumbling mission at San Juan Capistrano.
But what about us? People. Do we have our built-in homing device turned on? Is it keeping us focused on our perfect destination? No matter what the season in our lives, our perfect place of safety and fulfillment is always the same place: The Almighty, Eternal, Living God.
What time is it in your life? Is it time to migrate to a new place in your spiritual walk? Do you find yourself feeling the need to live on a higher plane? Or is it getting a little dark and cold where you are now, causing you to long for more warmth and light and nourishment?
Well, the Word of God makes it clear that we each have a built-in homing device with its own internal radar. That Word tells us that we do not have to “anxiously look about us,” trying to find our path. (Isaiah 41:10). All we have to do is set our hearts on the one who created that homing device. (Prov. 3:6). And even more directly, we are told that we will find Him through Jesus Christ, who is “the way” into the heart of that Creator. (John 14:6).
Do you have your radar zeroed in on the almighty God of the universe? If so, you have a fantastic journey ahead of you. If not, maybe this changing season is a good time to make an adjustment.
Several years ago, as I sat on my front porch just enjoying the beauty of autumn, gazing fondly at a huge tree in my neighbors yard, this poem just started running through my soul. Today, as I thought about the fact that it’s the first day of autumn, 2019, I decided to re-post that poem so that all my new readers can enjoy it as well. After things get so far back in the archives, hardly anyone ever finds them. So I hope you enjoy this little reminiscence with me.
Leaf by tender leaf,
I watch this stately monarch
Dressing up for fall.
Gold, russet, yellow,
And brilliant red — her choices,
For she loves them all.
Hour by passing hour
The change begins subdued – but
Then bursts into flame.
I revel in the site.
My heart belongs to Autumn.
It’s joy calls my name.
The troubles that have pressed
Throughout the year now ending,
Though they’re present still,
Are restrained by the power
Of Autumn’s golden glory
To subdue all ill.
My heart belongs to Autumn.
Indeed, it always will.
Just a little whimsy I posted on my poetry site, but I thought you might enjoy it too. It goes along with the whimsy I was feeling when I painted this doodle-ly piece. [I don’t think doodle-ly is really a word, but I’m a writer — I can make up my own words. 🙂 ].
I know a forest filled with rainbow colored trees.
And every time it rains, they lift their leafy heads.
For God’s great promise spoken to Noah years ago,
With bow that promised we’d have no more floods to dread,
Reflects its multicolored prism on these trees,
And God’s great faithfulness from tree to tree is spread.
Two years ago today, I lost my very best friend of many years when attorney and civic leader Kent Bartholomew Mann was killed while riding his bicycle. It’s been a very sad two years for me. Kent was much more than just a friend. He was also my best-ever book editor. Although a lawyer by profession, he had a most amazing and creative gift for writing and editing, and many were the times I sat with him, or called him, and said, “Hey, I’ve got this scene that really needs so-and-so, but I’m stuck.” His creativity would go to work on the problem and almost always come up with an idea that was just right. He helped me so very much in my writing, my business, and my ministry.
Without question, Kent was my toughest critic, and my strongest and most faithful champion. He constantly challenged me to my highest and my best in every area of my life. More than once, when a situation just got too hard to deal with and I was ready to throw in the towel, he absolutely refused to let me quit. [And it’s hard to argue with a guy who stands at 6′ 7″ and weighs over 200 pounds. :)]
I was not the only person he touched with his kindness and encouragement. I have realized over this past two years that there is hardly any sector of my home town to which I can go where I am not reminded of how he did something in that place that helped someone – sometimes an individual, and sometimes an entire group of people. Was he perfect? Certainly not. But he was the truest kind of friend.
We spent hours working on one of my inspirational novels on the afternoon of the day he died. When we stopped for the day, I walked out the door with our plans made to pick up the work again the following morning. Three hours later, he was gone from this life.
I’m sharing all of this information simply to make this point: In the world we’re living in right now, true, trustworthy friendships are rare. If you have been blessed with that kind of friendship, value it as gold. Cherish it, nourish it, and guard it with your whole heart. These words offer the most sincere wish I can make for you in honor of my beloved friend.
Kent Bartholomew Mann is gone from this world, and it’s a darker place as a result. But he is still very much alive in my heart, and his legacy of love and friendship still lightens the shadows.
True consecration and oneness with Jesus is not earmarked by some mystical — other-worldly — experience where the believer ceases to have active participation in the life of the earth. It’s best understood as a believer continuing to have his feet firmly planted on this earth and actively participating in the life being lived on this planet, but whose heart is totally captured by Jesus. He’s so in love with Jesus that the love they share dictates and controls how the believer lives out that life on a day-by-day basis.
The wholly consecrated believer does not hide himself away from the world. He actively involves Jesus in the every-day aspects of his earthly life and his relationships with people — thus bringing the Kingdom of God into the earth.
Today is “Word Bee Day.” Who knew??? Well, I guess the UN General Assembly did, since they declared it a couple years ago. I didn’t know until this morning, but that’s okay. I have nothing against bees. I usually have a hundred or so spending time in my azalea bushes., and we get along fine. But, frankly, I’m totally fed up with all these causes to “save” all kinds of various creatures and plants while carrying on the wholesale slaughter of human beings in their mother’s wombs. Can anyone say “insanity”?????
Anyway, I decided that if I’m going to have to acknowledge “World Bee Day,” I’m going to do it may own way. I made out a list of things that I’m scheduling myself to do today, and I encourage everyone reading this post to do these same things. As a former grammar teacher, I’ve had to turn off my natural spelling instincts for this one, but it’s worth it:
1. Bee on the look-out for anyone I can help with his job or a personal problem — and then actively help him.
2. Bee cheerful and kind to everyone I interact with all day long, whether it’s a business, associate, a family member, a social network friend, a fellow grocery shopper, or a neighbor’s dog choosing my yard for the bathroom — everyone — no exceptions.
3. Bee diligent to do every task that should be done today and to finish it on time and with excellence.
4. Bee sure to smile at everyone and at myself in the mirror.
5. Bee diligent to contemplate and be grateful for all the multitude of blessings in my life.
6. Bee diligent to openly and generously praise the Lord for giving me so much to make my life good.