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Down by the Riverside

Surprised in November

Frost on the patio railing

     Yesterday we woke to a hard frost that sparkled in the sun, making patterns on the patio railing and furring the grass.
     This has been the sunniest November I can remember.  

     Except for a few gloomy days around the time change, we've had a peek at the sun nearly every day this month. I know, because I keep track on my calendar whether or not the sun shines.  

     I need the sun.

     While walking on the Lakelands Trail west of Pinckney last week, I stopped on the bridge over Honey Creek and swiveled my head toward the south like a flower, letting the late afternoon rays bathe my face.

     While hiking on the nature trail at Hudson Mills Metropark, I stopped mid-step and spread my arms wide like the branches of a white oak tree, letting the light soak into my limbs.

     As my family and friends  know, November is my least favorite month. "Dark" was the meditation that began this series of blogs in 2021.

     But this November has been different.

     Because of the extra sunlight, I've noticed the blue sky between the branches of the trees. As poet and priest Arnold Kenseth said, "Now are the trees windows, / And the eyes see distances."

     I've noticed how the Norway maples hold their golden leaves longer than the other maples.
     I've even appreciated the muted colors of November's palette, the grays and beiges and browns, spiced with an occasional dash of scarlet. Or the bleached beauty of field corn rattling in the wind.

     I am grateful for simple daily things like the smell of Ed's coffee in the kitchen in the morning or the colors in a bowl of chicken chili – red tomato, green pepper, yellow corn.  

     And I am grateful for special things, like the prospect of seeing our family over the holidays when grandchildren will careen through the house.

     I am grateful that a long spell of difficult work is nearly over, and that I came through a bleak period of internal pain. It's been a hard autumn for me, which is why I haven't written a blog in several months.

     But, now, to my surprise, in November, I skip while walking and sing while praying. I am grateful for that, too. Because it doesn't happen all the time.

     And if I kiss my husband on the back of his neck rather than glower over my breakfast cereal, that is a gift, too.

     I know the dark will come again, and soon.

     But today I feel myself blessed beyond measure.
     So, as the scripture enjoins, I bring the sacrifice of praise.

     I say in the words of an old prayer, "For all thy blessings, known and unknown, remembered and forgotten, we give thee thanks."

     Happy Thanksgiving, dear ones. May you, too, come through whatever hard season you are in. May you be surprised by a thankful joy.

Scripture: "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name." – Hebrews 13:15 (NIV)

Playlist: "We Bring the Sacrifice of Praise," Kirk Dearman, 1984.

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