25 November 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

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(Our Thanksgiving Tree)

I love that sound and smell... my feet rustling through the dry fallen Autumn leaves on the earth's floor. My eyes search through the crisp air, looking for a simple treasure amongst the abundance of jewels strewn about, gifts that were once wrapped in a blaze of red, yellow and orange glory now unwrapped and scattered at my feet. They are thick, dry, and ruddy brown as I swish through them, seeking something special buried among them for our Thanksgiving celebration. I search for a tree branch on the ground, a miniature likeness of the grand oak or hickory from which it came. A simple, oft over-looked discard that will become the humble frame for our family's remembrance. Remembrance of the wealth bestowed upon us by the Creator of all true treasure. I seek, and find, our Thanksgiving Tree.

On my way back to the house, I spot a worn orange plastic beach bucket tossed aside and memories of my little young pirates using it to collect their sandy booty on the seashore overcome its gaudy and cheap appearance with beauty and sweetness. A perfect place to plant our tiny treasure of a tree. Planted in packed sand from the children's sandbox lovingly made by their father, this poteed branch held in my hand stands tall in its short way with its many dividing twigs twisting out towards Heaven... arms reaching, embracing, remembering the Giver of all good things.

Our family and a friend joining us for the holiday gather around the fire in the fireplace with scissors in hand, cutting and crafting paper leaves of green, gold, red and orange. Together, father, mother, grandmother, children, and a companion clip away what is not needed to find meaning in what remains, finding a little treasure that was always there, now brought to life by leaving the rest behind. The pile of paper leaves grows as each leaf is prepared to be hung on the naked tree waiting nearby. A hole is punched in each through which a paper clip pokes to serve as a hanger. Placed near a jar of Sharpie markers, these leafy blank slates await our words as more guests arrive...Words to be written upon them of thanksgiving, gratitude, appreciation, gratefulness, indebtedness, recognition, satisfaction, contentment, joy. For what are we thankful? "family." "hope." "Autumn leaves." "God and me." "Belief in God and Christ." "forgiveness and healing." "my school." "the Thanksgiving Tree." "chocolate chip cookies." And on it goes, scribbled upon the waiting leaves.

The little humble tree, a limb that had fallen dead to the earth below, sits bare and naked in the sand pail. Once discarded, it now stands chosen for a singular purpose. Its exposed twig arms are now arrayed once again with colorful leaves as human hands both little and large, dress it in words of joy. Arrayed in a new glory not its own, it speaks of the acclaim freely offered to the One who first gave it life and crowned it with real leaves of living color. Today its apparel is a reminder of the blaze of glory of its last moments of life before it finally fell naked and dead among the brush. Plucked from its obscurity and decay, it has been given new life, new leaves, to speak again of the manifold mercies of God which are new every season, every morning. Re-born. Made new. A "dead" tree that is now evermore "alive," a treasure beyond value, for it is now the offering of praise and gratitude of many. This abundant thanks giving, from those whom the world says ought to have few blessings to count...a woman who this year lost her only sister and husband and whose health declines, a widow from another country caring for two young boys while also going to school, a jobless husband and father, an alcoholic struggling against his addictions, a child with special needs, and the rest of us "ordinary" people with struggles and weaknesses not so readily seen. Yet, here at the Thanksgiving Tree, our gratitude pours forth and we have much to celebrate.

For, once again, our spiritual eyes have sought through the crisp air of our momentary lives on this planet to see, and experientially know, God's abundant provision and lavish grace in our lives. This Thanksgiving Tree is our tribute to our King and Father who leaves His love letters strewn about our lives like the Autumn leaves scattered upon the earth, if we would but look, seek, see, and know their unwrapped bounty and over-looked beauty. How a simple, crude little tree can inspire such hushed awe within when we pause to ponder! How I am reminded of another tree, crude and cruel, yet of glory beyond all measure. This is for what we are truly thankful. It is even beyond words, yet they, along with our lives, are all we have to offer. And, because of that tree, it is enough. For we are wrapped in a righteousness, a right-ness, not our own. And, always,

He,

He alone,

is

enough.

How Deep the Father's Love for Us

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders.
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers.

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished.
His dying breath has brought me life,
I know that it is finished.

I will not boast in anything;
No gifts, no power, no wisdom,
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer,
But this I know with all my heart;
His wounds have paid my ransom.

How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.


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holy experience

3 comments:

deb said...

This stilled me /
thanking you

I'm Angie said...

That is wonderful! Thank you for sharing your words and moments with your family!!

Trish said...

Yes, He alone is enough...wish I lived that Truth every day. Thank you for sharing with us.