The leaves are all gone, swept by the wind into the woods surrounding our house. And I began to think of people who, like those leaves, have been swept by the Divine wind into the Eternal arms of God's love. I remembered Grandpa and Grandma Bill, Grandma and Grandpa Fortune, Great Uncle Johnny (dreamt about him last night), Great Uncle Burt (quite a character), and a host of other aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, Sunday school teachers, youth group leaders, and pastors. It was quite a parade.
And I also thought, as the wind was really howling through the naked limbs of the trees, that God's love has always blown many new friends to me -- from all sorts of places (Philadelphia, Portland, Chicoutimi, Vancouver, and more) in all sorts of ways (readers of my books, via the Internet, face-to-face meetings). Each new friend has enriched me in wonderful ways.
And I also thought of my old friends and my family -- who stand like those trees. The wind moves around and through them. They change with the seasons but are always holding steady while they are growing. Their steadfastness, even as they grow and change and mature, blesses me more than I let them know.
As I thought about all these people in my life, I also remembered my favorite Thanksgiving poem. I discovered it more than ten years ago, and has become a favorite of mine. It’s by Max Coots and says:
Let us give thanks for a bounty of people:
For children who are our second planting, and though they grow like weeds and the wind too soon blows them away, may they forgive us our cultivation and fondly remember where their roots are.
Let us give thanks;
For generous friends...with hearts...and smiles as bright as their blossoms;
For feisty friends, as tart as apples;
For continuous friends, who, like scallions and cucumbers, keep reminding us that we've had them;
For crotchety friends, sour as rhubarb and as indestructible;For handsome friends, who are as gorgeous as eggplants and as elegant as a row of corn, and the others, as plain as potatoes and so good for you;
For funny friends, who are as silly as Brussels sprouts and as amusing as Jerusalem artichokes;
And serious friends as unpretentious as cabbages, as subtle as summer squash, as persistent as parsley, as delightful as dill, as endless as zucchini and who, like parsnips, can be counted on to see you through the winter;
For old friends, nodding like sunflowers in the evening-time, and young friends coming on as fast as radishes;
For loving friends, who wind around us like tendrils and hold us, despite our blights, wilts and witherings;And finally, for those friends now gone, like gardens past that have been harvested, but who fed us in their times that we might have life thereafter.
For all these we give thanks.
Indeed, for all these we give thanks. Let us give thanks, this holiday time, for friends no matter their type and God’s graciousness in giving them to us. People who are made in God’s own image, come to bless us.