icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Down by the Riverside


     Underfoot, on the short quarter-mile of paved trail that goes from the parking lot to the river at Hudson Mills Metropark, I saw three different kinds of nuts. Light-brown shagbark hickory nuts with their segmented shells. Smashed black walnut hulls promising to stain the fingers of anyone foolish enough to pick them up. Acorns rolling like ball bearings under my boots.
     Lots of nuts.

     Biologists say 2021 was a "mast year," part of a natural cycle when certain trees produce more than their usual amount of "mast," which means nuts. A mast year can be brought on by stress like drought in the previous season. 2010 was our last big mast year.
     A mess for humans, but a feast for chipmunks, deer, and squirrels.
     Jesus often talked about how God provides for his creatures, human and non-human, pointing out lilies, sparrows, and fields ripe for harvest. I especially like one of his phrases describing kernels of corn in a jar or basket: "pressed down, shaken together, and running over."
     As I walk, I'm also amazed at how many different kinds of things there are in the woods, which to me is more evidence of God's reckless extravagance. Gerard Manly Hopkins praised the variety of creation in his poem, "Pied Beauty," combining in one line "fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls" and "finches' wings." I imagine the gleaming red-brown of sweet chestnuts and the bright yellow and black of goldfinch wings.
     The profligacy of creation. Not just the bare minimum. More than enough.
     Of course there are lean years. Even famine. But cultivating an attitude of abundance rather than scarcity allows us to enjoy what we do have when we have it.
     A long time ago I read a newsletter from a mission organization that provided food in Africa. The article described the joyous song of children in a village that had been served: "We have food. We have clothes. We have everything."  
     May we always remember the bounty we've been given. And with glad hearts may we share it with others.

"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back." Luke 6:38 (NRSV)
Playlist: "All Creatures of Our God and King," Mark Geslison & Geoff Groberg, All Creatures of Our God and King, 2020.


Post a comment


I’m full of gratitude last night and this morning. I felt so good yesterday evening after a day of work inside and outside – the whole afternoon in the yard, clearing brushy plants from the perimeter so we can blow leaves more easily into the woods. The air was cool and golden light shone through the leaves.

After dinner I sat on the patio, drinking tea and eating gingersnaps, watching clouds move overhead and dusk creep into the recesses of the yard. I went to sleep on a bed made for a queen with dark polished wood, curved posts, and intricate knobs. Pleasantly tired, I lay awake looking forward to the next day of rest and writing.

This morning Ed made us mushroom omelets with swiss cheese – and orange juice and fresh strawberries and good hot tea. I again felt like a queen. Though we call ourselves middle-class, we live like royalty used to – in a spacious home that is cool in the summer and warm in the winter, eating elaborate meals with fresh fruit from far places, having many choices of clothing in beautiful colors and fabrics. Many people of lesser means serve us – waitresses, store clerks, parking lot attendants, the young woman in a light blue uniform at the hospital wiping the fingerprints from the shiny glass stairwell.

“What shall I return to the Lord for all his bounty to me?” the psalmist asks in Psalm 116. “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.”

I want to lift up the cup of my life in gratitude, and pour it out so others may be blessed. One of the things I will do today is write a check so a student in Liberia has tuition for the year (an amount not much more than Ed and I spend for a nice dinner out.) I will resolve not to covet, enjoying what I have, remembering Jesus’ warning that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” I will put what I have at his disposal – time, energy, goods – and work for a more just distribution of the world’s resources.

I’ll lace up my hiking boots and walk in the CROP walk for hunger this Sunday. I could call or write my representatives in Congress to say that everyone needs access to basic things – clean water and education and health care, to name a few. Americans like me, wealthy beyond the wildest dreams of our ancestors, need to share – not hoard – what we have. Guide me, O God, as I live in gratitude today.
 Read More 
Post a comment