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23/11: Giving Thanks

Category: From the Heart
Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Guest Blog

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a...war of [significant] severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years, with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.

It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to...observe...a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

A. Lincoln
Category: From the Heart
Posted by: an okie gardener
Last Sunday afternoon I drove from Waterloo, Iowa, south down US 63 to New Sharon, then west to Pella. Clear fall sky, fields on the rolling hills in the late stages of harvest--soybean fields greyish-brown stubble, most of the cornfields rows of harvested stalks bent to the earth in the direction the combine had passed, a few fields of yellow ears of corn on brown stalks awaiting the move to bins. The sun fairly low in the southern sky (the short dark days approaching) bathing the hills with gentle golden light. It was a Grant Wood fall day.

Grant Wood, the Iowa artist known as a "regionalist," because he painted the landscape at hand; not the south of France but the farms and people of the Midwest. Last Sunday afternoon was his painting "Fall Plowing" in real life (with combine-bent stalks instead of hand-stacked shocks of corn).

Art critics have observed that the hills in Wood's Iowa landscapes resemble the female body. No accident I am sure. Mother Earth in her fecundity, the soil a fertile womb for seed and rain and sunshine to combine into life-giving life.

Last Sunday on the Iowa hills, the fall of maturity and harvest following the summer of growth which followed the spring of fertility. And soon, the apparent death of winter will coat these same hills in ice and snow. Until spring. Then the cycle of planting, growth, and harvest again. As in years past, centuries past, millenia past.

I'm 50 years old. Odds are I've lived over half my life. And that's OK. I've seen the older generations of my family in their fall years, and have lost them to winter. My own children follow after me a season behind. Someday for me it will be winter.

I've stood at two gravesides this week; we committed the bodies into Mother Earth--ashes to ashes, dust to dust. In sure hope of the resurrection of the dead. We confessed the Christian faith in the words of the Apostles' Creed: "I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the dead, the the life everlasting. Amen"

Winter for me is coming, but I believe that afterward, spring; not because of the fertility of Mother Earth, not because of something inherently immortal in me, but because of the miraculous power of God, who promises resurrection and life everlasting to his people through Jesus Christ. An eternal spring and summer in God's glorious golden light.

Enjoy spring, and summer, and fall, and don't fear winter.