"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

23 November 2009

It is Good to Give Thanks

Today was our Thanksgiving chapel. Psalm 145 was the text we followed, and several people shared meditations on various sections of the chapter, with songs between the meditations. It was most well-organized and edifying. I had been asked to do a meditation on verses 13-16. Much of what follows has been gleaned from other Inscapes posts, but some is new and all edited for today. It is indeed good to meditate on the lovingkindness of the Lord.

Psalm 145:13b-16

"The LORD is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.
 The LORD upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.
 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.
 You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing."

It is all too easy to look about this broken world and despair. Where is the Lord? How is His faithfulness and kindness displayed when all around we see the horrors of war and famine and poverty; families devastated by divorce and abuse; illness and death robbing us of those we love; unborn babies ripped from the womb. And too often weariness sets in and makes all the foolish little everyday annoyances seem almost unbearable as well – the printer that won’t work, a thoughtlessly flippant word, piled-up traffic making us late to an appointment.

I am far too prone to focus on the brokenness that surrounds me, to succumb to irritation that sees only imperfections in myself and others. And then God hands me a gem of joy, a reminder that love and beauty and kindness are all around me even in the midst of the brokenness of this world we've tried so hard to destroy. There is still "the dearest freshness deep down things" and God keeps bringing beauty to the surface to delight my heart, if I will be still long enough to see.

A few gems I’ve been given over the last couple of years, that come immediately to mind:

A music CD from an old friend, an office mate from graduate school, whom I haven't talked to in years but who knew I’d like the music and the message.

A decorated balloon tied to my office door, bouncing a cheery face up and down in greeting from a beloved student.

News that my oldest son was returning from his latest six-month deployment in Afghanistan.

Simple Christmas lights in someone's yard -- cheery color leaping out from the gloom of a foggy evening to lift the spirit.

Notes of thanks and encouragement from former students that make it possible to keep going when weariness threatens to overwhelm my sense of duty.

A trip to Knoxville that cemented an already lovely friendship as my writer friend and I shared our passion for books and for family and for the God who has made our love strong and true.

A birthday lunch at Red Lobster, a necklace to match my anniversary earrings, conversation both funny and serious – a relaxing and enjoyable day with my beloved husband of 35 years.

A hand-painted ceramic unicorn whose rainbow colors will forever remind me of a young woman who entered my life unexpectedly to become a cherished treasure.

A cup of hot tea and a shoulder to cry on from a former student become a colleague and now a dear friend and confidant.

Precious hugs and teasing laughter from my youngest, so close to leaving home, giving me memories to light my heart on the days to come when the house will be at times all too quiet.

* * * * * * *

Oh, yes, the brokenness is here, it surrounds us and we have to be blind to deny its devastation in our lives. Even our “happy endings” in this world – graduation, marriage, retirement – will always be tinged with some edge of sadness.

And yet – there is an ultimate happy ending where all tears, all sorrow will be washed away forever, and even now “the Holy Ghost over the bent / World bends with [. . ] bright wings.” In light of this, I desire to seek out, to learn to recognize, the gems of joy that strew my path, and dance in the delight of His always-giving, ever-faithful love.


Stephen said...

Thanks for sharing this with us this morning.

Lydia McGrew said...

Beautiful post, Beth. Thanks very much! Hopkins is great.

I was walking around the neighborhood today on this beautiful day and just feeling thankful for the shapes of the trees. They are so beautiful without their leaves. I think one has to be an American, and an American from certain states, to appreciate that. An alien, or someone from the desert, would probably think it was crazy.

alaiyo said...

It was a pleasure, Stephen.

Thank you for the kind words, Lydia. You are so right about appreciation. I'm originally from Kansas, and there are certain trees that I especially love . . .