Let All Things Now Living

Prayerby Deana Chadwell11/25/15
The time has come for Norman Rockwell, for the gathering, the feasting, the football and I begin to realize that with the climate of the country being what it is we’re likely to lose the holiday we call Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving implies a God to whom we should be thankful, and political correctness won’t tolerate that for long; someone might be offended.  But the truth is that such an eventuality, while it will be sad, will not affect the heart that is truly grateful and aware that God has given all, everything – here and in heaven. Thanksgiving is an attitude, not just a holiday.

We need to be giving thanks for both the temporal blessings with which we Americans are so blessed, and for the spiritual gifts that are so freely available to all who desire a relationship with our Creator. Let’s look at the earthly first:

I can’t think about this issue without the words of great writers coming to mind –

Thornton Wilder’s Our Town deals with gratitude and appreciation of the everyday things in our lives. His heroine, Emily Webb, dies in childbirth and is given an opportunity (by the stage manager – it’s a strange play) to go back and relive a day in her life. She chooses her 12th birthday and as she watches herself live that day she comes to realize that she missed most of it, failed to appreciate, to even notice the blessings that filled her existence. She finally says goodbye to “clocks ticking, and Momma’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths… and sleeping and waking up…”

Simple things, these – coffee, new-ironed dresses, and sleep, but she suffers such pain realizing how little she cherished her life that she begs to go back to her grave.

Do you remember the song Maria sings in The Sound of Music?

“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things”

Lists like these have always fascinated me partly because they come so close to my favorites, but also because they remind me to notice, and noticing reminds me to be thankful, and thankfulness calls me to joy.

One of the best pre-fab gratitude lists is a poem by the British poet Rupert Brooke entitled The Great Lover. He begins that poem with quite a flowery and passionate introduction, but then he gets down to listing all the things he has cherished. Read through this and look for similarities with the things you treasure —

These I have loved:
White plates and cups, clean-gleaming,
Ringed with blue lines; and feathery, faery dust;
Wet roofs, beneath the lamp-light; the strong crust
Of friendly bread; and many-tasting food;
Rainbows; and the blue bitter smoke of wood;
And radiant raindrops couching in cool flowers;
And flowers themselves, that sway through sunny hours,
Dreaming of moths that drink them under the moon;
Then, the cool kindliness of sheets, that soon
Smooth away trouble; and the rough male kiss
Of blankets; grainy wood; live hair that is
Shining and free; blue-massing clouds; the keen
Unpassioned beauty of a great machine;
The benison of hot water; furs to touch;
The good smell of old clothes; and other such
The comfortable smell of friendly fingers,
Hair’s fragrance, and the musty reek that lingers
About dead leaves and last year’s ferns…
Dear names,
And thousand other throng to me! Royal flames;
Sweet water’s dimpling laugh from tap or spring;
Holes in the ground; and voices that do sing;
Voices in laughter, too; and body’s pain,
Soon turned to peace; and the deep-panting train;
Firm sands; the little dulling edge of foam
That browns and dwindles as the wave goes home;
And washen stones, gay for an hour; the cold
Graveness of iron; moist black earthen mould;
Sleep; and high places; footprints in the dew;
And oaks; and brown horse-chestnuts, glossy-new;
And new-peeled sticks; and shining pools on grass;
All these have been my loves. And these shall pass…

Let us feel challenged to come up with a list of this many things we love, — anything lovely, or comforting, or delicious; things mysterious, distant, gone; things made by human hands, or by the hand of God; thoughts and imaginations, fragrances and friendships, fun and flatteries. What do we love about being here, now?

Then let us contemplate the things above. We Christians have a great deal to be grateful for beyond our creation and the creation of our home-away-from-home. We have the free gift of salvation – note the word free. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” Just “believe.” Is Jesus Christ God? Is He also man? Did He successfully pay for all the sins of the whole world? Did He rise from the dead? If you answer yes to these questions, you believe and I’ll see you in heaven someday.

So, we have the love of God to be thankful for, and then the lovely people and loving pets, and the love God has taught us to feel for the unlovely.

We will gather with family this week, as we have our whole lives, and remember those who have gone on and celebrate the living loves of our lives. We will break bread, as a nation, in the company of those who matter the most to us – let us fully appreciate that blessing.

We have the Word of God to be thankful for – in fact, we have language in general for which to give thanks; it makes all things possible. We have our guardian angels for which to be grateful; I know I wear mine out – the narrowly avoided collision, the bad fall that miraculously causes no injury, the sudden awareness of danger.

And we have purpose. For that I am most thoroughly thankful. So many of us live in this frightening and difficult world without any idea of why we’re here. As a Christian I know that each day I wake what I do will in some small way matter, that my simplest daily activities are worth doing and doing well. It brings me joy to know that. It brings me joy to write this, to know I can, to know you will take the time to read it.

In fact, all that I’ve mentioned here gives me joy and for that I am filled with gratitude and praise.

Let all things now living, a song of thanksgiving

To God the creator triumphantly raise.

Deana Chadwell blogs at ASingleWindow.com and is a writing and speech professor at Pacific Bible College in Southern Oregon.
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Deana Chadwell

About Deana Chadwell

I have spent my life teaching young people how to read and write and appreciate the wonder of words. I have worked with high school students and currently teach writing at Pacific Bible College in southern Oregon. I have spent more than forty years studying the Bible, theology, and apologetics and that finds its way into my writing whether I'm blogging about my experiences or my opinions. I have two and a half moldering novels, stacks of essays, hundreds of poems, some which have won state and national prizes. All that writing -- and more keeps popping up -- needs a home with a big plate glass window; it needs air; it needs a conversation. I am also an artist who works with cloth, yarn, beads, gourds, polymer clay, paint, and photography. And I make soap.
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12 Responses to Let All Things Now Living

  1. Timothy Lane says:

    We read Our Town in high school, but I remember very little about it (though I’ll agree that it’s a weird play, starting with the characters answering questions from “audience” members). Getting rid of Thanksgiving Day will be difficult for liberals to eliminate, since it’s a federal holiday by virtue of an actual congressionally-enacted law. They can certainly do their best to discourage it, or to ruin it, but it’s debatable how successful they will be with most families.

    As for things to love and enjoy, I will note that 20 years or so ago, the EPA declared, in essence, that the smell of newly-baked bread (which I suspect would be one of those popular items, though I can’t say for myself due to a lack of a sense of smell) is a pollutant. Liberals are never happier than when making others unhappy. (“Misery loves company.”)

  2. Timothy Lane says:

    Since this is something of a Thanksgiving post, I will go ahead and give a message to all who read this. First of all, no matter what problems our country faces, we should remember the message of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA”, and be thankful we live in a country where the flag “still stands for freedom” no matter how determined many of our leaders (including the Executive Branch) are to change that.

    There are no doubt many personal things we can each be thankful for, such as friends and family. Among all the people of the world, we here are among the luckiest in terms not only of freedom but of material wealth. And, finally, I want to give thanks for the long-distance friends, those with whom I communicate by one means or another — including my blog mates, here and elsewhere.

    • So true, Tim. I know how grateful I am to have a place like this to put the things I write. I might be nuts otherwise. OK. I might be nuts, anyway, but here I feel less crazy. Have a great Thanksgiving.

      • Timothy Lane says:

        I can remember, many years ago, a columnist who appeared in Conservative Chronicle (I think it was the late Charley Reese) who was grateful that he had a soapbox and wondered what would have happened to him without it (and without the talent to make use of it). I think this is true for most of us here.

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      Ditto, Timothy. Happy Thanksgiving.

  3. Pst4usa says:

    Happy Thanksgiving one and all, great post Deana. I am thankful for most of the contributors to this site, for Brad and all the effort he puts into this site, and for all the gifts that God has given me; although I know as far as writing goes, I fall into the group that was not blessed, as Timothy points out, with the talent to make use of it.

    Thank you all for allowing me to play in this pool from time to time, as an inventor, God has given me a lot of talent, something that challenges me to keep my pride in check, but here I can be humbled almost every time and given a chance to learn something I struggle with.

  4. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    irm sands; the little dulling edge of foam
That browns and dwindles as the wave goes home;

    That’a a fine poem and the above is an exceptionally good observation.

    Let us feel challenged to come up with a list of this many things we love, — anything lovely, or comforting, or delicious; things mysterious, distant, gone; things made by human hands, or by the hand of God; thoughts and imaginations, fragrances and friendships, fun and flatteries. What do we love about being here, now?

    It’d rather just bitch and complain. It’s easier, Deana. But seriously, a splendid essay. And a hearty thanks for sharing it with us.

  5. Glenn Fairman says:

    Thank you Deana. Beautiful, as always…….

  6. Anniel says:

    I have a question about prayers I had not heard of until Thanksgiving Day. Have you ever encountered what are being called “Corporate Prayers?” As I understand the concept, this is not just a community of believers praying for the same person or thing, like healing or peace, but someone calling for prayers on a day and time certain, say next Wednesday at 6 P.M. All participants are called or e-mailed and set that time aside so the prayers are synchronous. No prayers are given for “wants”, no matter how greatly desired. Only gratitude, praise and thanks are to be in the prayer, but the participants tell God to use the prayers as He sees fit.
    I’m not sure how differing time-zones are handled. If a corporate prayer is called for 6 P.M. on the East Coast, does one pray at 3 P.M. in Oregon, for instance. Nor do I know how wide-spread the practice is.
    I found the idea intriguing and have no idea where it started.

    • I know people have been calling for national prayer, and rightfully so, but I don’t have any specific info about the kind of organization you’re talking about. I’ll check around at the college on Tuesday and see if anyone there knows anything about it. d

    • Timothy Lane says:

      I’ve heard of similar things not involving prayer, and the idea is to make it simultaneous. Thus, one would have to know both time and time zone, and adjust accordingly. I assume it would work the same way for prayer.

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