Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving and Praise

Washington, D.C.
October 3, 1863
By the President of the United States of America.
A Proclamation.
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln


William H. Seward,
Secretary of State

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thankful


I ate stuffing for breakfast. Yes! And it isn't even Thanksgiving yet.

Somehow though, with the driving wind and freezing rain and snow, along with a certain mood of heart and mind... I'm not preoccupied this year with waiting for the Proper Season.

Over the years I've done different things--decorated for Christmas in early November, or waited religiously until after Thanksgiving for even one lick of holiday music.

At this point though, I'm not concerned. I did wait until I saw the first snow to turn on the Christmas music with my own hand... but I enjoyed other's music happily before that. And when the snow did come--in multiple inches and flying white, a few weeks ago--I promptly tuned Charlie Brown Christmas, and wrote home for my parka.

As far as Thanksgiving goes, I've been part of a Friends-giving or two so far (hence the leftover stuffing) and next week will celebrate on the actual day. The opportunities for gratitude are so many that it would take more than 365 Thanksgiving days to declare them all. And yet I don't declare them nearly often enough. They get lost in the shuffle of other thoughts in my head and I don't go to the trouble to pick out individual ones and purposefully Give Thanks.

When asked this year, one of the things that stood out to me from this last year was the opportunity to travel so much--to make new friendships and have meaningful conversations. Also to meet people who are markedly different from me, and to learn things from them and about people in general. The opportunity for new experiences, perspectives and places. And for all the things that travel brings:

One of those is gratitude itself. I travel to put my own problems into perspective; to remember that my basic needs are luxuries elsewhere; to learn gratitude for what I have and find out what my needs truly are. It is true that my travels so far have not been to third-world countries where you would expect to feel the need of others over your own most markedly... but I find the broadened view of travel does that to me anyway. I discover what I can live without... I remember the hugeness of the world--the tiny fraction that I have seen so far--and am moved to help others, to pray for people I have never seen, and to give away because I can.

One of the dangers I feel in staying in small, familiar places is our propensity to forget about all that is different and far off. We live in a massive, diverse world. Hundreds of countries; thousands of cultures, billions of people.

"D'you know, in 900 years of time and space, I've never met anyone who wasn't important," -11

That's why I read, really. To know all about the different people and thoughts and ideas. But geography itself is staggering when we really stop and think about it. So, as much as I can I try to sprinkle my literary broadenings with actually Seeing the World. Call it curiosity, call it the desire for learning, for knowledge, for beauty. It is all of those and much more.

And I am also immensely grateful for the few weeks I was able to spend with my Aunt Emma; precious, numbered days. And as always, to spend time with cousins, getting to know them better. I hope and plan to work toward more cousin-time in the coming year.

At the same time as I've been moving about, spending time with cousins, and making new friends, I've spent less time at home and with my brothers, sister, Mother, Dad... This only makes me more grateful for my family, and in a way, I love to miss them. I'm greatly looking forward to being back in their lives, come Advent season. Their immediate lives that is, and they in mine. Even from afar, they are my best friends and encouragement, cheering me on in life and decisions and travel... I am immeasurably thankful for you guys.

And for books, pens, and music (Christmas music included), and all my needs met (excellent food, solid roofs, parkas, conversation, church).

And most for Christ Jesus himself.
Light of the world. Bread of Life. God with Us.
The gift of His Own Self that I can gladly claim.

"Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Monday, November 10, 2014

C.S. Lewis

a couple of quotes from our friend Jack~

"The great thing if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one's own or real life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one's real life--the life God is sending one day by day." 

"The more we let God take us over, the more truly ourselves we become - because He made us. He invented us. He invented all the different people that you and I were intended to be. . .It is when I turn to Christ, when I give up myself to His personality, that I first begin to have a real personality of my own." 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Preparation and Anticipation



Chilly morning


Celebrating new births and bracing November winds with a little Nigella Christmas on youtube...