Blackberries, Or Bushes Afire?

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We await a smaller mob than most years – we’ll have 15 around the table. I cite a link to our Thanksgiving experience in 2009 I hope you’ll enjoy: https://wheeledwords.wordpress.com/category/gettin-by-lifestyle-changes-greater-independence/himalayan-expeditions-wheelchair-travel/

But also happy to step out of the way of my good friend, Frank Smith III, a far more gifted writer than I am, who emailed a spot-on and fresh Thanksgiving missive that I am pleased to share:

Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every bush afire with God;
But only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit around it and pluck blackberries.

(Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “Aurora Leigh,” Book VII)

I read Barrett’s beautiful poem again this morning, as I do every Thanksgiving since I discovered it. The poem says it all, and says it well.

So few have the eyes to see that, as the Seraphim cry out in Isaiah, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts… the whole earth is full of His glory.” Psalm 19:1 tells us, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made.”

Take a few moments, and silently list just a few of the ways in which you are blessed every day. The tolling of distant church bells on a crystal clear, frosty night . . . the touch of a child’s hand, or a grandmother’s cheek . . . the warmth of a friend’s arm around your shoulder. The taste of a turkey that your beloved labored over for hours. An expanse of dark green, snow-capped forest under the rosy-pink of early dawn. A dog’s eyes, expectant and bright, when he brings the ball back for the fifteenth time.

Forgiveness. Loving-kindness. Justice. Grace under pressure. It’s hard to stop, isn’t it? This is our Father’s World. And how He reveals Himself to us, in it . . .

Yes, the world has fallen, and until Christ’s return, the creation groans: longing for things to be made right and for freedom from sin and death. There are wars, and rumors of wars, as there have been in every year since that Fall. Amidst the beauty thorns of many kinds and shapes sadly “infest the ground”.

But God’s amazing handiwork still shines through, causing awe and wonder to well up in our hearts and pour forth in thanksgiving. Praise Him.

And praise Him also, that even when sin and sinners mar His work . . . He has willed to redeem those actions for good. A far deeper good, a greater and more far-reaching good, in fact, than the enemy could ever imagine . . . and a good that will one day reflect His sovereignty and His wisdom and His love for all eternity.

Remember Joseph, whose dreadful fate turned into the salvation of his family, and his family’s people. And then, remember Jesus . . . ! And say out loud with Paul, as he marveled at God’s handiwork in Romans 8, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”

So. See with new eyes, the handiwork of the One through whom all things were made, and have their being. And look also, as the Spirit even now moves and heals and transforms, and love grows in human hearts where there was none before, and God’s Kingdom advances.

And watch as Our Lord — already victor over sin and death — continues to roll back the darkness and prepare our world for His Second Coming: that time in which, as John writes in Revelations, ” . . . He will dwell with (men). They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them, and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes . . . and there will be no more death, or mourning, or crying in pain, for the old order of things will have passed away” (Rev. 21: 3-4).

See, look, watch . . . and be thankful.

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