"This is the traditional day to give thanks. Traditions, of course, are based on customs and beliefs transmitted from generation to generation. Those we observe at Thanksgiving are mostly rural- the bountiful harvest, the gathered family, the roasted turkey the feast, the thankful prayer. And all with the generous land close about, a world of fields made fruitful by calloused hands. The thanks were for health and strength and independence.
Looking back now, in a land whose people are largely urban, the day may seem to have only token meaning. And surely one day out of the year is not too much to think back and remember. The day of thanks goes back to a little band of immigrants fighting a strange wilderness, painfully getting a foothold there They had little enough to be thankful for, yet they were grateful for survival and hoped for better days beyond the winter that was closing in. They had faith and believe and even dreams, though those dreams could not encompass what has come after them.
So the traditions are as important as the thanks themselves. The symbols are not without meaning, for they rest on the land's own bounty, on work and achievement, on obligations as well as rights. Nobody has yet outmoded harvest, or plenty or gratitude.
Thanksgiving is more than a feast. It always was. It is recognition of the providence, the work, the hope and the dreams that are in our very blood and being. It is thanks for the traditions themselves." Hal Borland
The Faces of Deer
by Mary Oliver
When for too long I don't go deep enough
into the woods to see them, they begin to
enter my dreams. Yes, there they are, in the
pinewoods of my inner life. I want to live a life
full of modesty and praise. Each hoof of each
animal makes the sign of a heart as it touches
then lifts away from the ground. Unless you
believe that heaven is very near, how will you
find it? Their eyes are pools in which one
would be content, on any summer afternoon,
to swim away through the door of the world.
Then, love and its blessing. Then: heaven.
“And when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans--and all that lives and move upon them. He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused--and to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself.”
― Sigrid Undset
By Danusha Laméris
I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
What if they are the true dwelling of the holy, these
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead — you first,” “I like your hat.”
" A framed photo, like a pot or a pen or a table, must serve its purpose, just as it is, without apps or upgrades. In the digital era, this irreducible thingness may seem like a drawback. But let's not forget that it is also an enduring human value. A well-made object is informed by thousands of years of accumulated experiment and know-how. Whenever we make or use an everyday tangible thing, or even when we contemplate one seriously, we commune with this pool of human understanding."
- Glenn Adamson
And Now It's October
the golden hour of the clock of the year. Everything that can run
to fruit has already done so: round apples, oval plums, bottom-heavy
pears, black walnuts and hickory nuts annealed in their shells,
the woodchuck with his overcoat of fat. Flowers that were once bright
as a box of crayons are now seed heads and thistle down. All the feathery
grasses shine in the slanted light. It’s time to bring in the lawn chairs
and wind chimes, time to draw the drapes against the wind, time to hunker
down. Summer’s fruits are preserved in syrup, but nothing can stopper time.
No way to seal it in wax or amber; it slides though our hands like a rope
of silk. At night, the moon’s restless searchlight sweeps across the sky.
“And Now it’s October” by Barbara Crooker
from Small Rain. © Purple Flag Press, 2014.
"And ballet, I wasn't going to mention ballet because I don't know any more about it that I do these other arts, even less-- but my wife and I went to Saratoga...and we saw the City Ballet do a couple of wonderful dances, one on Bach's Goldberg Variations. And I realized this art is working in both time and space. It's both music and it's spacial on the stage, and it's saying listen to this time, right now and look, look at what you're looking at, look at the language the body speaks, the language the face speaks, the language the hands speak, these wonderful things the young, supple, beautiful bodies are doing up there on the stage to the music. These are the kind of things we all of us do less young-ly, less supple-y, less beautifully, but with our hands, with our bodies -- pay attention to that. So generally -- and this is not a complicated point, God knows -- the arts frame our life for us so that we will experience it. Pay attention to it." Frederick Buechner