Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving. Thanks Giving. Giving Thanks.

It seems a bit vaporous on Thanksgiving day to just say, “I’m thankful.” On this day we are good at inquiring and responding to questions asking for what we are thankful. Many of us ask family around the table, and even kids in school, to name what each person is thankful for. My grandson, Julian (Jude), brought home a Thanksgiving craft wheel this week that he made in his 4 year old “Little Elks” preschool class . He could spin it, pointing to things on his list. His chosen responses consisted of Candy, Balls, and Mommy :).

I believe it is important to take time to be thankful and this holiday gives space for that. Right before we begin to write Christmas lists for what we want, and go into the biggest spending sprees of the year, we look around and evaluate the good we already have. In sincere communal gratitude one can almost sense the forgotten beautiful wisps of “Content”, “Enough”, “Satisfied”.

But, implicit in both thanking and in giving, is a direct object and indirect object. I am not a language scholar (in fact, I’m sure I’ve already dangled a few participles above) but I believe both of these verbs, give and thank, are transitive: “characterized by having or containing a direct object” (merriam-webster.com). “A transitive verb, used with a direct object, transmits action to an object and may also have an indirect object, which indicates to or for whom the action is done.” (cliffsnotes.com) In the same way that we don’t just buy birthday or Christmas gifts, or write thank you notes, and give them to nobody in particular, it completes the intention and benefit of giving and thankfulness to direct our gratitude to someone or Someone.

So, in this short blog post I want to remind us all this day, and every day, to name our direct and indirect objects, the target and reason and catcher of our thanksgiving. Yes, it includes family and friends, but also, let’s address our ultimate Provider. Name the Lord. Direct words to Jesus. Thank God. Acknowledge that, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17).

I end this post with a prayer of Thanksgiving from the Book of Common Prayer and invite you and your loved ones to use it, or any prayers from your hearts, to address the Giver, the Lover, the Lord Christ—to name both for what, and to Whom, you give thanks.

A LITANY OF THANKSGIVING*

Let us give thanks to God our Father for all his gifts so freely bestowed upon us:

For the beauty and wonder of your creation, in earth and sky and sea,

      We thank you, Lord.

For our daily food and drink, our homes and families, and our friends,

      We thank you, Lord.

For minds to think, and hearts to love, and hands to serve,

      We thank you, Lord.

For health and strength to work, and time to rest and worship,

      We thank you, Lord.

For all who are patient in suffering and faithful in adversity,

      We thank you, Lord.

For all who earnestly seek after truth, and all who labor for justice,

      We thank you, Lord.

For all that is good and gracious in the lives of men and women, revealing the image of Christ,

      We thank you, Lord.

For the communion of saints, in all times and places,

We thank you, Lord.

Above all, we give you thanks for the great mercies and promises given to us in Christ Jesus our Lord;

      To him be praise and glory, with you, O Father,

      and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever. Amen

*https://bcp2019.anglicanchurch.net/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/BCP-2019-MASTER-5th-PRINTING-05022022-3.pdf

I caught myself recently telling someone …

that it was the funnest thing I do in life. (My husband, Hule, mumbled an indignant comment in the background :).)

What was that “thing”? Mowing.

Mown paths on our farm

My love affair with mowing began one summer when I was about 11 or 12. I wanted a 10-speed yellow Schwinn bicycle and my dad said if I mowed the lawn for the summer he would buy it for me. So, week by week that summer, I befriended the delightful smell of cut grass, learned the skill of pushing a purring machine in a straight line, and acquired a taste for this delicious cocktail of exercise, sunshine, aromatherapy and beauty.

Fast forward to 2014 when we moved to our Jessamine farm. We had only a push mower and the uneven terrain, big yard, and my age combined to quell my love for mowing until, low and behold, we were gifted with a lovely John Deere riding lawnmower. I was in heaven!

Besides mowing our yard, we had gotten a grant to plant native grasses, forbes, and flowers on several acres on the back of our property, and I relished preparing the fields with a thorough haircut before planting.

Some of our flowers and vegetation

Once the flowers and grasses came in (Purple Coneflower, Black-eyed Susan, Little Bluestem, Virginia Wild Rye, Tall Dropseed, Partridge Peas, and Illinois Bundle Flower), I began cutting paths through them so we could walk freely in the fields. This was the best! The sun would begin to set and I filled with endorphins and life-enhancing neurotransmitters as I finished up week after week during the summers. Eventually I began expanding the mowing to create what I called “living rooms”—little mowed spaces furnished with chairs or benches and decorated for rest, gathering or solitude, prayer and contemplation. I now have 9 living rooms…& counting:

1. Camp Julian

2. Hazel’s Haven

3. Julianne’s Hideaway

4. Sarah’s Secret Spot

5. Memorial Point

6. Naked Holy Rocks

7. The Forest Trail

8. Matt’s Man Cave

9. The Anchorhold

Sometime in the future I will try and feature each of these on the blog with photos and explanations.

Memorial point, a path nearby, and Hazel’s Haven

This year we added a new mower to our “fleet”. It’s an Exmark riding lawnmower whom I have named Hildegard, Hildy for short, after one of my favorite saints, Hildegard of Bingen. We also have been given a Honda ATV named Ruby, and when the sad time comes that the fields and paths and living rooms are all cut, Ruby and I go tour the grounds together surveying the Gardens.

Sunset at Loretta’s Living Room, Julianne’s Hideaway, and the path of Eden’s Loop

In Eden tending the garden and naming were the tasks given by God to the first humans. We were made for this. We find meaning, hope, and home, finding ourselves and one another, with our Creator, while tending, walking, and soaking in beauty.

Paths

I encourage you today, to go find Eden, observe place and nature long enough to name, find our Creator in an outdoor living room and chat, discover fun and meaning while tending the beauty of your place and paths.

The Anchorhold, Maggie’s grave at Memorial Point, and a Harvest Moon coming up at the end of a satisfying mow.

National Daughter’s Day

I saw on Facebook yesterday that it was National Daughter’s Day. I missed it :-/. But I will post belatedly today.

I can’t easily say with words how much I love and respect my daughters, but I will try. They are both loving, kind, brave, courageous, persistent, intelligent, capable, insightful, beautiful, caring…. I could go on and on. They have been one of life’s greatest blessings.

It’s such a mystery that when Hule and I found each other and married, and “made” these two humans together—joining our DNA and histories, nature and nurture, that made the possibility for them to exist. Without that specific equation, they would not exist.

We are not always created from happy, blessed unions—and if we’re not, it does not diminish our value. Every human’s value is in the ONE Who formed us from earth’s dust and rib, created our DNA, made us in His image, and breathed His life into us. God, is our ultimate Parent—we are His daughters and sons.

Life is a Miracle. Family is God’s original plan—Edenic hope.

Sarah Jo and Julianne Kay, you bring grace and joy to this world and to your Momma and Daddy’s hearts and souls! Today we celebrate you.

Childbirth

I find myself praying today for a friend’s imminent childbirth. Giving birth is such a thin place, where we join in creation and fall simultaneously. It’s a miraculous space: liminal—in-between. The father, mother, and child, pass through a limen—a doorway—from unknown to known and from known to unknown. There is a change in “I am-ness” to each participant—even for every sibling and every grandparent.

When my first grandchild was born, I stood at the head of the bed and experienced the miracle unfolding. I saw my dear daughter rock in pain with contractions and reach in joy for her new writhing, crying, little human-gift. I observed the furrowed brow, outstretched hand, and deep concern of my son-in-law at bedside; then the outrageous excitement of seeing the emergence from dark to light of his firstborn, Hazel—with a holy hush followed by one last push.

When my second grandchild, Julian, was born, I stayed at home with Hazel. It was a different kind of vigil—from far away. It was hard not being present and I was grateful to God and His sure presence with me and with my daughter simultaneously, and His constant bent-ear, listening for our intercessions and supplications. I wrestled with the thought that my daughter would need to struggle with pain, maybe blood, and difficulty for this birth, and I recalled the reason that the Bible gives to aid in answering all, no, most, of my questions.

The night before Julian’s entrance, I birthed the following thoughts. I pray they might help you or your loved one in grappling with, and entering past the veil into, this angel-filled, Trinity-immersed, Cloud of unknowing which we encounter at the emergence of every new life…if we have eyes to see.

Julian’s Exodus

And now

As we turn toward this event

This liminal passage—

A new life liminal passage—

We remember that You Lord, are a Parent

A Father and “Mother” to a boy, Adam and girl, Eve

Formed long ago in the womb of your garden,

“born” into your household.

And even before that

(really not before, but always)

Your only Son—begotten, not made—of one Being with You.

 

But there came a fall—

Jack and Jill tumbled

And pain in childbirth came,

Not the original plan,

But a consequence.

 

So now we embark on a new in-between space

One that, despite our knowledge and advancements, will likely bring some

Pain

Squeezing

Peril

Need

Perhaps groaning.

 

“Like the pains of childbirth,” we often say:

A groaning of earth in an Eve-like form.

 

We come here through remembering also that you overshadowed blessed Mary—

Dripping in Eve-ness—

To bring hope and healing

To bring back full joy and to ease the pain of Eden’s losses.

 

And with your Husband eyes[i]

And Father eyes

And Maternal eyes[ii]

You oversaw it all:

The angelic visitation,

The miraculous implantation,

The weaving together of God and man

Who would be Adam 2

Adam Jr.

Who would be Your precious, deeply-loved Son.

 

You watched the journey,

The uprooting,

The placenta pulling away

In the birthing room

That was a stable.

You sent shepherds and wise men for the baby shower.

You watched as the wet, crying and cooing boy emerged from the nine-month hiddenness.

You sent angels to say,

“Do not be afraid!”

You said, “My peace I give to you.”

And, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

 

 

And so we pray to You—

Who are a Father

And a Son

And have a maternal heart

And are a great Physician

And a Summoner of angels.

 

We look to You

To bring the Light –Da la Luz!

Of Your presence

Your face

Your touch

Your attention.

 

We ask for safety for all during labor and journey through the underwater tangles, the unknown, the Red Sea’s partings, little Julian’s exodus into this world.

 

We look to You.

We trust in Your great love,

In Your deep knowing—conocimiento—that is owned by a Parent’s heart and soul and body.

 

In Your Son Jesus’, name,

Amen


[i] Jesus is the bridegroom and the church is His bride.

[ii] Many places in the Bible God is portrayed as having motherly affection and care:

God: “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.” Is. 66:13

God: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb?  Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.” Is. 49:15

God: “For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept myself still and restrained myself, now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant.”  Is. 42:14

Jesus said, “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing.” Matt. 23:37 and Luke 13:34

Happy Mother’s Day!

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I was born into motherhood nearly 39 years ago. It is one of the highest privileges and deepest mysteries I’ve ever encountered. Birthing and Mothering allows women to participate in Sacrament—in unconditional Love, Creation, Christ-mas, Baptism, and Communion.

I’ve written a poem for all mothers and their children, for my daughters, granddaughter, and for my mother. It only scratches the surface of this unfathomable mystery. I share it with you here:

I am Mother

by Loretta Goddard

I lie down and surrender to love and risk.

Protection withdrawn, my womb opens to receive another.

My fertile bed prepared by God opens its lips to the seed.

The race is on—unpredictable and exciting—one possibility meets thousands and chooses one.

A match is made

A fire strikes

Burning and burrowing beneath the soil of blood and mystery.

I wait. I look to stars.

I con-sider. I lie still.

Selah

 

We test “waste” to know your presence. We listen and peer in with sound waves.

I lie down once again and look to screen and risk seeing you and falling madly,

deeply,

forever in love.

I carry you around in my purse and pouch and put you on my refrigerator and marvel at the blurry, fuzzy jelly bean sized person in me,

Who is you.

I wait. I look to stars.

I con-sider. I lie still.

Selah

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I begin to pant and feel squeezing—tightness

Yes—pain

Intense—severe

I risk death with joy and moaning, for you.

You have kicked in me, punched my ribs, rolled like a bowling ball inside me.

How I have longed to see you and touch you and now it is immanent and I am scared.

As you emerge I am born.

I am mother.

I hold you.

I wait. I look to stars.

I con-sider. I lie still.

Selah

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I give my days and nights to you.

I give my body once again—my rest and food, vitamins and drink all churn inside me until milk comes flowing through my chest to nourish you…sustain you.

My hours are yours, my body is given—scarred, stretched, engorged.

This is my body, broken for you. Take and eat.

You snort and grunt, draw near to suckle, your hands knead like a cat on a blanket, like a baker with his dough.

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I wait. I look to stars.

I con-sider. We lie still.

Selah

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