Category Archives: Thanksgiving

And…

Let the wicked forsake their ways,* and the evil ones their thoughts;

And let them turn to the Lord, and he will have compassion,*

and to our God, for he will richly pardon.

[The Second Song of Isaiah (Is. 55:6-11), BCP, pp. 86-87]

I am a prodigal daughter, standing in a sty, surrounded by pigs. This is the fork in the road. Do I perish here, soul and maybe even body? Do I walk the long road home, back to a mother and father who love me?

I’m not sure what I’m more afraid of – this barren wasteland that is my soul, or the life-giving home that will rescue me from this self-chosen living death.

If I go back, one thing I know: all bets are off. I’ll never be able to turn a prodigal away. All will be welcome. All who seek it will be restored.

[For the whole canticle, click Lent 2021 above.]

 Photo by Jared Fredrickson

An Alternate Reality: From Doing to Being

Readings: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16; Luke 1:46b-55; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38

“…Go, do all that is in your heart…” 2 Samuel 7:3

“…I will give you rest…” 2 Samuel 7:11

After 51 years of intense and often overwhelming striving – 45 in the paid workforce and six as an unpaid but very busy and highly responsible worker at home – I retired last month, as in stepped away, clocked out, retreated.

What happened next seemed inevitable. Having withdrawn from the frenetic hustle, I moved to the desert (literally). I, like other reclusive types before me, have simplified, downshifted, and consciously relinquished much that gave my life meaning before. I sold my businesses, seriously pared through material possessions, said goodbye to family and friends, and re-located to a different state.

Here I now am doing “all that is in [my] heart.”  At first this was mainly recovering – lots of sleep, changes in diet and exercise routines, daily immersion in nature, much reflection amid the incredible quiet. I’ve been aided in my solitude by the covid shelter-in-place mandate. I have received much needed rest. Many has been the day when, at the end of it, I realize I’ve not spoken to or interacted with another person all day. Am I lonely in this extreme seclusion? No. I feel as if I’m on the receiving end of a reward long-earned and long-deferred. I revel in my isolation and am feeling divinely ministered to and understood.  As other verses in 1 Samuel assert: For the Lord is a God who knows what  you have done… and …He will protect his faithful ones.

In my current minimalistic experience, I am finding great peace. All the heretofore life motivating “shoulds” have fallen away. Desert creatures are my brethren. Sensory experiences no longer involve words and images on screens; now they center around appreciation of sunrises, starry skies, sunsets, and good books.

As you reflect during Advent, I offer to you my recent observation that as the externals of my life have drained away, the internal gifts have bubbled up. It took deliberate and mindful action to effect this massive life change, but, now that it has come, I am truly full of thanksgiving and praise for this God-provided time of rest to do all that is in my heart. I wish it for you as well, or whatever the desires of your heart may be. Blessings to all of you!

Offered by Jill Fredrickson, desert traveler bound for Bethlehem.

Sands

by Hazel Ward Adcock

Scientists tell of singing sands

What songs?

What songs sing the singing sands?

I went to a desert place

To learn the song of the singing sands

These offspring of rocks

Forever lost, wanderers of the winds

Flowing obliterating tracks

In high wind fury

Blowing into newly-sculptured dunes

Burning at noon time

Shivering, quaking in moonlight;

Calm burning days

Of diamond shimmer and mirage

Bright water waving, lapping

Glimmering fading forever

As we approach.

At last I heard the song

Its grand song

Song of the only truth or certainty

The grand song of time and change.

Never lost, never the same.’

Kindly offered by Martha Zinger, Hazel Ward Adcock’s daughter.

Happy Thanksgiving

Dear God, make me grateful for all that this life offers – the good and the difficult. You made me and you sustain me, offering love in all times and places. Teach my heart to love, my spirit to dance, and my mind to understand. Amen.

[I’ve Got Plenty To Be Thankful For, Bing Crosby, Holiday Inn (sound track), recorded 1942, Sunbeam Records]

Business, not as usual: default quarantine

An indirect brush with Coronavirus changed all the plans I had for the days leading up to Thanksgiving. No one at home was sick, but someone who tested positive had interacted with my husband. Social distance and masks were both used, but quarantine-by-default was still the result. We adjusted our plans and expectations and began to figure out how to get our work done in isolation.

The first thing that surfaced for me: not everything I had on my to-do list really needed to be done before the end of quarantine. I prefer getting everything done well in advance, but that’s not the same as things needing to be done within my original time frame.

The second thing: the worst that would happen would be delay, not cancellation, in delivering Advent materials. The world would not stop spinning, and Advent would arrive.

The third thing: any inconvenience I might experience does not compare to the suffering of those who are sick. To suppose otherwise is at best ignorant, at worst callous.

Quarantine is a hard thing, but it offered me a better view of what is and is not important. Thanks be to God for that.

Driving Home: Scotland Bridge Road

Yesterday, I drove past the house I called home forty-nine years ago. It’s a ranch, medium size, nestled in the trees. It sits at the middle of Scotland bridge road, halfway between where the river meets tidewaters and an old community church. Although you can’t see it from the road, there’s a lovely path through the woods, babbling brook included. Only a couple of miles from the Atlantic, you can smell the salty sea on most days.

It’s a typical Maine house, with nothing to distinguish it from dozens of others in York. When I turned onto Scotland Bridge road, I wasn’t even sure I’d recognize it. There are a few more houses on the road, and the ones I remember don’t all look the same. New paint colors and a few additions have added a layer of unfamiliarity to many of them. But it was still a home and a road in a town that I called mine.

Watching maple leaves drift groundward at the place I now call home, I see that my memories are that house on Scotland Bridge Road. They’ve changed over time and distance, with new layers added that weren’t really there when I was living among them. But the heart is the same: my soul recognizes the place I once called home.

 

 

Enough, and more than enough

I will try this day to live a simple, sincere, and serene life, repelling promptly every thought of discontent, anxiety, discouragement, impurity, and self-seeking.

“It shouldn’t be this hard.” Life may be holy and unique, but it ain’t easy. How can anyone keep from being discouraged at the world’s mess?

When my talent and resources aren’t enough to give help where it’s desperately needed,  and when others who could help don’t, I do my best to remember this:

It’s up to me to do my part, not everyone else’s.

I cannot know what good will come, but I can trust that God will draw good out of every situation. 

No one is beyond redemption.

There are miracles.

This life is enough, and more than enough.

A Morning Resolve:

I will try this day to live a simple, sincere, and serene life, repelling promptly every thought of discontent, anxiety, discouragement, impurity, and self-seeking; cultivating cheerfulness, magnanimity, charity, and the habit of holy silence; exercising economy in expenditure, generosity in giving, carefulness in conversation, diligence in appointed service, fidelity to every trust, and a childlike faith in God.

In particular I will try to be faithful in those habits of prayer, work, study, physical exercise, eating, and sleep, which I believe the Holy Spirit has shown me to be right.

And as I cannot in my own strength do this, nor even with a hope of success attempt it, I look to thee, O Lord God my Father, in Jesus my Savior, and ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

A Morning Resolve, Forward Day by Day, inside front cover; Cincinnati, Ohio: Forward Movement. www.ForwardMovement.org.

Welcome 2020!

In a few hours, 2019 will bow out and hold open the door for 2020. I’ll be toasting in the New Year with friends – an almost every year gathering for the seventeen years I’ve lived in Wareham. When the festivities end and my husband and I are back home, I’ll take a few minutes to thank God for the year just past; then, I’ll begin 2020 by writing about blessings – the happy ones, sad ones, hard and easy ones. I hope you share a few of your own along the way – conversation is so much more fun than monologue…

 

For the Beauty and Bounty

For the beauty and the bounty of this place I call home, Lord, I thank you. May I live in gratitude for  your creation, and be a good caretaker of my own little part of it.

 Common Sage in my front yard.

 Rosemary

[Liz Story, Simple Gifts, The Carols of Christmas: A Windham Hill Collection; Windham Hill Records, 2003]

A View From Below

[Photo by Jared Fredrickson, 2019]

I pass under this tree half a dozen times a week, on my way to the library, grocery store, or out for a daily walk. I’ve admired its leaves as I’ve walked toward it, and I’ve appreciated its shade in the summer. But I don’t know that I’ve looked up from beneath it. Until my son walked with me, showing me how to take pictures with my new smart phone. It was when Jared raised his camera to take this picture that I looked up and saw how blue the sky looked against the golden leaves. How could I have passed under these branches so many times, blind to their graceful stretching?

A bird’s-eye view can be amazing, and I love seeing things from above. But if this picture is any indication, a groundhog’s-eye view offers its own beauty.

Today, I am thankful for my view from below.

[Photo by Jared Fredrickson, 2019]