Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Musings on Thanksgiving (with special appearances by C.S. Lewis, Victor Hugo, Thorin Oakenshield, and William Shakespeare)

(Wouldn't it be cool if we could change the background of this blog to match the seasons? Yeah, I don't know how to do that. Then again, the Wood between the Worlds probably doesn't have seasons. Anyway, here is a picture that looks like it could have been taken in the Wood between the Worlds in autumn, you know, if the Wood had an autumn.)
The weather is turning colder, the trees losing their leaves, and the stores displaying Christmas merchandise - which must mean that Thanksgiving is upon us.

I have nothing against listening to Christmas music once November hits, but let's make sure we don't rush over Thanksgiving in our excitement for Christmas to come; this holiday deserves its own time in the spotlight.

What's Thanksgiving about? Pilgrims and Indians? The Mayflower? The founding of America? Maybe, but if we want to find the true heart of Thanksgiving, all we need to do is remember the name of this holiday. Giving thanks is a sweet, joyous, and plentiful harvest in and of itself. C. S. Lewis, in Reflections on the Psalms, wrote:

“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. It is frustrating to have discovered a new author and not to be able to tell anyone how good he is; to come suddenly, at the turn of the road, upon some mountain valley of unexpected grandeur and then to have to keep silent because the people with you care for it no more than for a tin can in the ditch; to hear a good joke and find no one to share it with. . . . The Scotch catechism says that man’s chief end is ‘to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ But we shall then know that these are the same thing. Fully to enjoy is to glorify. In commanding us to glorify Him, God is inviting us to enjoy Him.”

Are you ever struck by the incredible beauty of this world? Now is the time to express your delight, wonder, and gratitude for the glorious things around you. And our gratitude shouldn't be confined to the subject of the beauty of nature; there are so many things to be grateful for that it's staggering. Even in our darkest moments, there is something amazingly beautiful or wonderful or helpful for which we can express thanks. And this thanksgiving shouldn't be confined to Thanksgiving. We can express gratitude all year long. But this is the time to focus on our gratitude and reflect upon it. If you're unsure of how to express your gratitude and to whom, take a cue from the words of Victor Hugo:

"To give thanks in solitude is enough. Thanksgiving has wings and goes where it must go. Your prayer knows much more about it than you do."

Whether its in prayer to God, in conversation to your friends or family, or in complete solitude in your journal or private thoughts, find some time to give thanks this Thanksgiving.  

But also find some time to enjoy good food, because that too is an important part of this holiday, and, after all, as Thorin says to Bilbo in The Hobbit:

"If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."

So from the depths of my heart I truly hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and find both something to be thankful for and some food to enjoy. And I pray, with William Shakespeare:

"O Lord, that lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness."
(Henry VI, Part II)

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