Thanksgiving Fest Reflections of Gratitude: Day 16

Tiger cat

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.”                1 Thessalonians 5

I know it’s silly.

I know it isn’t very profound.

But I give thanks for our cats. They have been part of our family for years and I look forward to their greeting when I walk in the door. I wish I could say their enthusiastic meows were an expression of their love, but I suspect it has more to do with wanting food – right now. I love the way they sit on my lap when I read or watch TV. I enjoy them purring with contentment.

We may have the exception to the rule, but our cats are not particularly graceful or quiet or mysterious. Instead, they knock things off shelves, skid onto the table as they leap from the counter, and claw our not-very-fine furniture. They regularly threaten to trip us as they wrap themselves around our feet.

Black cats are being overlooked in favour of more selfiegenic ones.

But still – they make me laugh, they are good company, and they are wonderful role models for enjoying a good nap.

I give thanks for pets and the joy they can bring.

What are you thankful for today?

Thanksgiving Fest Reflections of Gratitude: Day 15

Birdfeeder

Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them…Therefore do not worry about tomorrow…”   Matthew 6

When I look to the east out of our living room window, I see our bird feeders. Throughout the day there is an ongoing dance of flight, as the birds wing their way back and forth for a quick bite. Sometimes they crowd in to fight for position and access to the precious seeds. Other times there is simply a lone woodpecker or blue jay, feasting by himself.

When I gaze out the south window, the bee hive is in sight, nestled into the woods. The bees are quiet now, tucked away into the hive as they prepare for the long, cold months ahead. But on a warm day, they will emerge and buzz around the entrance, turning the white walls of the hive into a black, swarming mass of energy.  They have already provided rich, dark honey as well as honeycomb which we melted into lovely, lightly-scented candles.

Beehive

It gives me great pleasure to watch these communities of nature – the sight and sound of God’s creation.

I give thanks for the birds, bees, and the wonder of nature.

What are you thankful for today?

Thanksgiving Fest Reflections of Gratitude: Day 14

shoes

My cup overflows.    Psalm 23

I give thanks for abundance.  When I take the time to think about it, my life is filled to overflowing with possibilities and choices.

When it’s time to put on shoes, I have more than one pair.

If I shop for cereal, there is a dizzying selection.

Cereal

Shampoos, clothes, toothpaste, even cars – there are choices to be made.  I have more than enough.

I am humbled by abundance, especially when I remember that there are many who do not know where they will eat, bathe, or sleep today.  The contrast in our circumstances can inspire to do what I can to help others.

helping hand

I give thanks for the abundance that fills my life.

What are you thankful for today?

Thanksgiving Fest Reflections of Gratitude: Day 13

sunrise (1)

Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze
Sunrise, sunset

Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears. 
(Fiddler on the Roof)

I grew up watching the sun rise and set.  My bedroom window faced east, so every morning I was greeted with sunlight shining into my room, beckoning me to begin the day.

It was a rare evening when my parents didn’t call out to us children – busy with games, TV, and homework – to say, “Come and look at the sunset!”  Our picture window provided us with a panoramic view over the western rolling hills.  As the sun slipped away, it painted a rainbow of colors in the sky, reflected in the glowing clouds.

Sunrise and sunset remind me of the beauty of God’s creation. Each day offers the promise of new beginnings and an opportunity to begin again.  Each evening brings the comfort of God’s presence in the night.

I am so glad my parents reminded us to pause –really stop and notice – the beauty outside our windows.

sunset

I give thanks for the beautiful rhythm of sunrise and sunset.

What are you thankful for today?

Thanksgiving Fest Reflections of Gratitude: Day 12

Patti and Sue 2

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: 

 If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!   Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

I get to see my best friend today.  Patti and I live over 600 miles apart, we both work full time and have families, so getting together can be challenging. But seeing each other – in person, not just texts or emails or Facetime – is a priority.  So today I’m getting on a plane. And even more delightful – over the weekend we will lead a retreat together, which I’m sure will bring back shared memories of Sunday School, junior choir, and church youth group from long ago.

Patti and Sue

Friends are a precious treasure in life. I like this quote –

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you figure out which one it is, you will know what to do for each person
.

Some people enrich our lives for a short time, others are there forever. I think of so many people whose wisdom, support, love, and laughter have changed my life forever.

I give thanks for friends.

What are you thankful for today?

Thanksgiving Fest Reflections of Gratitude: Day 11

Small country graveyard with multiple gravestoness in a grassy enclosure

Eternal God, by the death of Jesus Christ our fear of death is lessened, with Christ’s time in the tomb, we know you have sanctified the resting places of your loved ones, and with Christ’s glorious resurrection you have brought life and immortality to light.  UCC Book of Worship

Who likes graveyards?

As a minister, I imagine I spend more time in cemeteries than the average person. I even have a view of the village graveyard from my office.

I appreciate the beauty of a well-maintained burial ground

I cherish the silence.

I value the stories contained on the stones.

I trust that those who have gone before and those who remain behind are safe in God’s care.

This is one of my favorite benedictions:

Life is short and we do not have much time to gladden the hearts of those who travel with us. 

Therefore be swift to love and make haste to be kind. 

The blessing of God,

who made us,

who loves us,

and who travels with us

be with you now and forever.

– Henri Frederic Amiel (1821-1881)

I give thanks for the reminder that life is short and precious.

What are you thankful for today?

Thanksgiving Fest Reflections of Gratitude: Day 10

Farm 5

You visit the earth and water it, you greatly enrich it…you provide the people with grain. You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with richness. The …meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for you.”     Psalm 65   

Farm 1

I am blessed to live in a beautiful area, surrounded by dairy farms, apple orchards, rolling fields lined with stone walls, and literal green pastures with still waters. The views all around me restore my soul. I am indebted to the people who make that beauty possible – the farmers.

Farm 2

Even as I sometimes grumble when my alarm rouses me at 5:00 a.m., I remember that it is the middle of the day for the dairy farmers who got up in the dark to milk the cows.

On bitter cold days when snow and frigid breezes are howling past my window, I delight in sitting comfortably on my couch enjoying a cup of cocoa. The farmer doesn’t have that option, but must tend to chores that never stop, despite wind and weather.

Farm 3

The farmers I know display a hearty work ethic, an appreciation for the revolving seasons, gratitude for their families, and an ability to cope with whatever mishaps and challenges come their way.  I admire their way of life and am grateful that I benefit from their labors in so many ways.

I give thanks for the beauty of farms and the hard work of farmers.

What are you thankful for today?

Farm 4

Many thanks to  Chrissy Peckham Photography for the beautiful photos!

Thanksgiving Fest Reflections of Gratitude: Day 9

dinner-table

God is great, God is good, let us thank him for our food.”   

Meal times are important.  It doesn’t matter if it’s pizza or a carefully crafted meal, or whether we are seated at neatly set table or crowded on a blanket outside for a picnic, the simple act of sharing a meal with friends or family is a blessing. We often have candles on our table – my mother taught me that even hot dogs taste better by candlelight – and that gives any meal a festive feeling.

It takes some time and intention to actually prepare a place to eat. By the end of the day our table is usually well hidden – buried in a landscape of newspapers, bills, homework assignments, and sometimes even a cat that has made itself comfortable. The act of setting the table conveys the message that it is time to pause, even briefly, and enjoy one another’s company.

We say grace before supper. When the children were little, each one would take a turn on an assigned night. On Sundays we sing the Doxology (“Praise God from whom all blessings flow…”) together. Mealtime is an invitation to talk, listen, and be nourished in body and spirit.

I give thanks for breaking bread together.

What are you thankful for today?

Thanksgiving Fest Reflections of Gratitude: Day 7

Cup-of-Tea

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28

“I’ll put the kettle on.”  That seems to be the reaction to any news – good or bad – in all the British dramas that I watch.  “A nice cuppa” offers either a chance to revel in good fortune or an antidote for trying times.  I even have a variation of Winston Churchill’s advice hanging in my kitchen: “Keep calm and put the kettle on.”

I drink a lot of tea.  I love the whole process: boiling the water, selecting the type of tea, unwrapping the tea bag, pouring the hot water, patiently waiting while it steeps to perfection. The aroma drifts out of the cup, inviting me to sit down, even just for a moment, and be restored.

Tea for me is a mini-Sabbath moment. It is an opportunity to be refreshed, gather my thoughts, take a breath, and simply be.

I give thanks for a hot cup of tea and the respite it provides.

What are you thankful for today?

Thanksgiving Fest Reflections of Gratitude: Day 6

water faucetLet justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!   Amos 5:24

Have you ever been without water?

When we go camping, we have to carry water from a communal spigot back to our campsite. It reminds me just how heavy water is.

When the power goes out, rendering our well useless, we are suddenly aware just how often we turn on the faucet, taking the access to water for granted. We simply expect it will always be there.

All over the world today, millions of people will be thirsty. Children won’t have enough clean water to drink. There will be women who walk miles to obtain the barest minimum of water for their families.

And I will simply turn on the tap and enjoy sparkling, fresh water.

I give thanks for clean water.

What are you thankful for today?