Prayer for Thanksgiving

Here’s a prayer from Robert Louis Stevenson that  would be fitting for your Thanksgiving table — or any table.

Lord, behold our family here assembled. We thank thee for this place in which we dwell, for the love that unites us, for the peace accorded to us this day, for the health, for the food, and the bright skies that make our lives delightful, for our friends in all parts of the earth.

Give us courage, gaiety, and the quiet mind. Spare to us our friends, soften us to our enemies. Bless us, if may be, in all our innocent endeavours. If may not, give us the strength to encounter that which is to come.May we be brave in peril, constant in tribulation, temperate in wrath, and in all changes of fortune loyal and loving to one another.

As the clay to the potter, as the windmill to the wind, as the children of their sire, we beseech of Thee this help and mercy for Christs sake. Amen.

~~Robert Louis Stevenson

Also, find a full collection of poetry, songs and hymns for the holiday at Ambleside Online.

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May Day

A poem for May, from Sara Teasdale:

May Day

A delicate fabric of bird song
Floats in the air,
The smell of wet wild earth
Is everywhere.

Red small leaves of the maple
Are clenched like a hand,
Like girls at their first communion
The pear trees stand.

Oh I must pass nothing by
Without loving it much,
The raindrop try with my lips,
The grass with my touch;

For how can I be sure
I shall see again
The world on the first of May
Shining after the rain?

sunrisetrees

Mr. Nobody

I’ve printed this and I’m hanging it up in our home this week. Perhaps you’d like to do the same. Do you have Mr. Nobody at your house?

Mr. Nobody

BY ANONYMOUS

I know a funny little man,
    As quiet as a mouse,
Who does the mischief that is done
    In everybody’s house!
There’s no one ever sees his face,
    And yet we all agree
That every plate we break was cracked
    By Mr. Nobody.
’Tis he who always tears out books,
    Who leaves the door ajar,
He pulls the buttons from our shirts,
    And scatters pins afar;
That squeaking door will always squeak,
    For prithee, don’t you see,
We leave the oiling to be done
    By Mr. Nobody.
He puts damp wood upon the fire
   That kettles cannot boil;
His are the feet that bring in mud,
   And all the carpets soil.
The papers always are mislaid;
   Who had them last, but he?
There’s no one tosses them about
   But Mr. Nobody.
The finger marks upon the door
    By none of us are made;
We never leave the blinds unclosed,
    To let the curtains fade.
The ink we never spill;   the boots
    That lying round you see
Are not our boots,—they all belong
    To Mr. Nobody.

Christmas, Whidbey Island

Today is the solstice: the darkest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. I heard a friend say that she loves the nativitysolstice, because it means the sun has been flung back northward again. Imagine that: the cosmic ping-ponging of a star so much larger than ourselves, hemmed in, we like to think, by gravity and our calendars.

“It’s our turn,” says the Northern Hemisphere, and Australia and the South reply, “well, alright, then,” and send the sun back. We will trade again in six months, when my children’s necks are sticky with sweat and the fireflies dance under the trees.

It is fitting that in the darkest days of the year, we celebrate the first advent of the Lord Jesus. The people who have walked in darkness behold a great light, and He makes all things new (Is. 9:2; Rev. 21:5).

He must be made low to rejoice with the Father on high (Phil.2). He was foretold in the Garden, on the day the gate was flung closed and locked (Gen.3). And He would conquer through lowliness, in the form of a man. God in the manger. Creator with no place to lay His head (Luke 9:58).

In the early chapters of Breath for the Bones, Luci Shaw explores the idea of metaphor, word made flesh. She reminds us that the centerpiece of God’s creative imagination is Bethlehem, “…site of the Incarnation, flash point of the joining of heaven and earth, invisible and visible reality, transcendent and material.”

She shares this poem from her colleague, Loren Wilkinson. May it bless you as you consider the Word made flesh this week.

Christmas, Whidbey Island

Not in the waves, not in the wave torn kelp;

Not in the heron by the lake at dawn

Nor owls’ haunting of the wood,

Nor rabbits browsing frightened on the lawn;

Neither in the widening whirl

Of seashell, galaxy, or cedar burl,

Nor in the mushrooms’ bursting of the humid ground

May God the fathering be found,

If not found first in Bethlehem,

In thistly hay, on hoof-packed earth,

Where a girl, cruciform with pain

Grips manger boards in child birth.

There in the harsh particular,

In drafts, and stench of cow manure

The squalls of Christ, Creator, sound;

Where God grasped not at Godhead in a child

There only will the God of life be found.

Now, if we upon this wave-shaped bluff

Stand in the straw of Bethlehem

Then God shines out from everything;

The agate in the surf, the withered flower stem,

The fish that gives its body for the seal,

The flesh, the fruits that form each common meal,

The dance of pain and love in which our lives are wound;

Since Christ was flesh at Bethlehem,

In all the world’s flesh may God be found.

Make the Day Seem to us Less Brief

October 
Robert Frost
redleaves
O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

Welcome, July

On the Grasshopper and Cricket

John Keats

The Poetry of earth is never dead:
  When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
  And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;
That is the Grasshopper’s—he takes the lead
  In summer luxury,—he has never done
  With his delights; for when tired out with fun
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.
The poetry of earth is ceasing never:
  On a lone winter evening, when the frost
    Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever,
  And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,
    The Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.

Joy

Friends were sharing favorite gratitude poems yesterday, and this one stuck out to me.

Joy

by Julie Cadwallader-Staub

Who could need more proof than honey—

How the bees with such skill and purpose
enter flower after flower
sing their way home
to create and cap the new honey
just to get through the flowerless winter.

And how the bear with intention and cunning
raids the hive
shovels pawful after pawful into his happy mouth
bats away indignant bees
stumbles off in a stupor of satiation and stickiness.

And how we humans can’t resist its viscosity
its taste of clover and wind
its metaphorical power:
don’t we yearn for a land of milk and honey?
don’t we call our loved ones “honey?”

all because bees just do, over and over again, what they were made to do.

Oh, who could need more proof than honey
to know that our world
was meant to be

and

was meant to be
sweet?