Blackberries, Or Bushes Afire?

Thanksgiving has become a calendar marker more significant than other holidays for several reasons. Time and Distance are two. But more significant are certain events on Thanksgiving Day 2009.

While our expat and eldest daughter and her family (five in all) are living lagom in the distant realms of Sweden, we travel southwest this year to central Virginia, joining seven remaining stateside progeny, three sons- and one daughter-in-law, five grands, and my sister (who wears the mantles of Auntie and Great Auntie).

Tryptophan ground zero is Swift Run Farm. Scenic, pastoral, and featuring three distinct, well-appointed dwellings that will sleep and feed us all, Swift Run was graciously made available to our troupe by Drew and Madeline Masterson, parents of son-in-law, Drew 2.0.

As I scribble, some watch the umpty-umpth Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Adults are distractedly looking for the University of Missouri Tigers Marching Band (my Mizzou leather head football playing dad’s alma mater). Kids are hoping to see gigantic Bluey and Ultron float by. Those strong of back, are moving tables and chairs into place, while the more gifted are chopping, dicing, mixing, tasting and basting – prepping for a late afternoon meal.

Shaping up to be a fine family time.

At the bottom of this post, I cite a link to our Thanksgiving Experience in 2009, that I hope you’ll enjoy.

BUT FIRST, I’m happy to step out of the way of my good friend, Frank Smith III, over in the Hook. Frank’s a far more gifted writer than I am, whose spot-on Thanksgiving missive, emailed annually, I am pleased to share below. I’m pretty sure you’ll be blessed by it.


Reading the headlines, listening to the news, glancing at the faces of people traveling or passing on the street… one is reminded again of the hardships and fears that are part and parcel of a fallen world. As we continue to navigate through, seemingly daily, such profound sadnesses, facing a strange new horizon every morning, the ground can certainly seem more thorn-infested than ever.

I’m so glad this morning, therefore, for the day that stretches before us. A day in which we pause — take a breath — and remember why we have reason not only for thanksgiving, but for praise… and great rejoicing as well. Thank God.

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

(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.” Ps.19:1 tells us, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” Rom.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. Lovingkindness. 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 still, He walks our paths alongside us. 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.


Thanksgiving 2009

Published by cfheidel

Chuck Heidel here. Father of eight, married to lovely heroic Alice over 30 years. I'm a former midlife recreational cyclist, who was hit by a motorist while out riding in August 2009. Further validating Sir Isaac Newton's notions, the score that day was: Cars: 1. Bikes: 0, and I became a C7 tetraplegic, paralyzed from the mid-chest down. Author of WheeledWords:

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