Note: this post was written yesterday. However, when I attempted to publish it on the blog, the computer (an ever-obdurate contraption) decided that it objected to my intentions and would not permit me to share this with you all at that time. Hence, it comes a day late.
Autumn is my favorite time of year, and Thanksgiving is the summit of the season. The weather outside is (theoretically) cooler and drier, with a crisp wind bearing the aroma of burning leaves and outdoor grills. The imminent conclusion of the current school semester instills a sense of anticipation, accomplishment, and satisfaction. All the leaves are assuming vibrant hues of saffron and crimson, painting a breath-taking landscape…across the border in Alabama, anyway. Festive adornments have taken over the house; pilgrims and dried corn and vivid leaf garlands festoon every available (or unavailable) surface, stirring eager anticipation and cheer. Thanksgiving: a time for reunion with seldom-seen family, for joy and celebration, for appreciating our many blessings, for that infamous green bean casserole, for sitting around the dinner table expressing gratitude for and contentment with what we have but then rushing to the mall a few hours later for the midnight opening of a black Friday sale where we scramble to snatch up as much “stuff” as possible and cat-fight with strangers over the last discount-price iPhone (does anyone else see the irony in this?). (For the record, the only places I’d even consider shopping on black Friday are Goodwill and the Waterfront Rescue Mission thrift store.) For two days, the kitchen is home to a feverish bustle in preparation for our Thanksgiving celebration. Yesterday I made cranberry relish, sweet potato casserole, and carved the first turkey with my hands (except for the part where I sliced the turkey breasts). Turkey #2 will permeate the house with its aroma today, as we play board games, card games, word games—and “combat croquet,” my favorite (I invented it!) “Combat” is somewhat of a misnomer; originally, I named it “extreme croquet,” but somehow it suffered a change of label—I’m not quite sure how. It is essentially a very non-traditional croquet course. The aim (pun intended) is still to use the mallet to propel the brightly-hued ball through the wicket in the minimum possible number of whacks; however, the course is a far cry from the nice little double-diamond configuration which is traditionally used. The wickets are wedged into corners, planted on a slope, sitting behind a prominent root, obscurely placed under outdoor toys, positioned at right angles to one another, etc. It’s so fun!
In the spirit of the holiday, here are some blessings for which I am thankful. You’ll notice that I exclude the vague, cliché, typical things: family, friends, liberty, needs amply met, the Thanksgiving celebration, etc. Honestly, they’re the fall-back answers and can thus be insincere. I am thankful for:
–The ready accessibility of paper, writing instruments, and books. In previous ages, these were such luxuries; we have come to take them for granted. All too often, the privileges of reading and writing are denigrated or ignored. The scorning of such a gift is nothing short of tragic.
–A little brother who is almost as excited as I am to seek and the discover the Latin roots of words.
–My new job! I’m greatly looking forward to starting work at Chick-fil-A next week!
–My wonderful cousin: no matter how long the interval without contact, we can pick up right where we left off, whether in person or over the phone. She’s such a caring individual, and God has used her so much in my life; she always understands and listens, and she’s one of my closest friends.
–My sister, who knows me better than anyone else does (besides God, of course). She’s often the only person to whom I can talk openly when life is hard (and isn’t it always so?)
–The deep, Christ-centered friendships that God has granted to me, especially in recent months.
–The opportunity I had to dual enroll in high school. Now that reality has slapped me awake, I’m even more glad that I have two years of free college under my belt.
–The passion for Truth which God has instilled in me. It’s all we have, a purpose without which we would be aimless, meaningless, and despairing. How could we ever not proclaim it to those trapped in lies?
–The joy that comes with self-discipline. Adhering to right principles by sheer volition, which comes from God, is so freeing.
–The vast array of subjects about which we have the privilege to learn. Music, literature, physics, math, art, biology, history, tactile pursuits like sports, and so much more! I wish I could learn it all, but the volume is so overwhelming. How wonderful—we have our entire lives to spend learning. Why would we ever want to stop after college? No wonder life seems pointless and boring to so many—they’ve rejected God’s greatest gifts.
–Actually being in college music program. In light of my very late start in music, I “shouldn’t” be here. I’m simply amazed by God’s perfect orchestration of circumstances. He’s taught me to have dreams, to set goals, and to persevere. If I had been realistic and what some would call “wise,” I never would have started in this direction. It’s hard, of course, due to the extra hard work required to catch up, but that keeps me humble. I need to rely on God, because I’m nothing on my own. Any success I have in music will be from Him. Think of 1 Corinthians 1: God uses what is weak and foolish and lowly (in the world’s eyes) to shame that which is idolized. He uses our weakness for His glory when He works through us.
–The speed with which God healed my potentially disastrous bout of carpal tunnel. I’ll be able to perform for my jury (music performance “final exam”) this semester.
–The rest and peace that God gives us in hard times. Knowing that we can always trust Him is so comforting. Nothing need affect us deeply, because our devotion to Him puts everything in perspective. He is infinitely wise and omnipotent and loves us boundlessly, why worry? He knows what’s best for us, is able to do it, and wants to do it. In fact, we’re commanded not to worry, so it’s a sin. Too often certain types of worry are seen as “righteous” or “spiritual.” Appearance are irrelevant; what is truly desirable is a complete reliance on God and the subsequent contentment and peace with our changeable circumstances.
–EagleLake Camp, where I worked for three summers. I hate to think of who I’d be without my time there. Of all places, it’s the one that is most truly home. God taught me so much and changed me drastically through the menial serving, genuine relationships, extensive time in the Word, and challenging discipleship.
Later: 10:00 p.m.
Today was a good Thanksgiving, but that is beside the point. I just wanted to add an embarrassing anecdote from five hours prior to this moment. With a filled plate, I walked to the table and deposited my plate in its place as I seated myself. I then proceeded to attempt to shake pepper out of the shaker onto the food. However, only a meager dust drifted from the ornate silver receptacle. Therefore, I shook it yet harder—a natural next step…not necessarily a wise one. Apparently, the top of the shaker was barely screwed onto it. I dumped all of the pepper onto the turkey and sweet potatoes and cranberry relish and peas. Humorous, yes. Excellent method of clearing every trace of congestion, yes (an option I opted not to explore). So the peas were rinsed, the majority of the pepper was spooned away, and a faint pepper taste lingered (which was the original goal, anyway). So I now have a new funny story. Life is so much better when one learns to laugh at oneself.