Worn Out Gloves

farmglovesAt our annual  Wiser Lake Chapel Thanksgiving service last night, we were asked to participate by bringing a token of something we are thankful for.  This is what I brought.

This is what my farm work gloves look like after a year of service.  They keep me from blistering while forking innumerable loads of smelly manure into wheelbarrows, but also help me unkink frozen hoses, tear away blackberry vines from fencing, pull thistle from the field and heavy hay bales from the haymow.  Over the years, I’ve gone through several dozen gloves, which have protected my hands as I’ve cleaned and bandaged deep wounds on legs and hooves, pulled on foals during the hard contractions of difficult births, held the head of dying animals as they sleep one final time.

Without my work gloves over the years, my hands would look very much like these do, full of rips and holes from the thorns and barbs of the world, sustaining scratches, callouses and blisters from the hard work of life.

But they don’t.
Thanks to these gloves, I’m presentable for my “day” work as a doctor where I don a different set of gloves many times a day.

But the gloves don’t tell the whole story of my gratitude.

I’m thankful to a Creator God who doesn’t need to wear gloves when He goes to work in our world.
Who gathers us up even when we are dirty, smelly, and unworthy.
Who eases us into this life when we are vulnerable and weak,
and carries us gently home as we leave this world, weak and vulnerable.
Who holds us as we bleed from self and other-inflicted wounds.
Who won’t let us go, even when we fight back, or try not to pay attention, or care who He is.

And who came to us
with hands like ours~
tender, beautiful, easy to wound hands
that bled
because He didn’t need to wear gloves~~His love made evident
to us all.

 

Just to Be

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Before the adults we call our children arrive with their children in tow
  for Thanksgiving,

we take our morning walk down the lane of oaks and hemlocks, mist
  a smell of rain by nightfall—underfoot,

the crunch of leathery leaves released by yesterday’s big wind.

You’re ahead of me, striding into the arch of oaks that opens onto the fields
  and stone walls of the road—

as a V of geese honk a path overhead, and you stop—

in an instant, without thought, raising your arms toward sky, your hands
  flapping from the wrists,

and I can read in the echo your body makes of these wild geese going
  where they must,

such joy, such wordless unity and delight, you are once again the child
  who knows by instinct, by birthright,

just to be is a blessing. In a fictional present, I write the moment down.
  You embodied it.
~Margaret Gibson “Moment” (featured today on The Writer’s Almanac)

 

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Swift Autumn

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photo by Nate Gibson
photo by Nate Gibson

 

Down to the Puritan marrow of my bones
There’s something in this richness that I hate.
I love the look, austere, immaculate,
Of landscapes drawn in pearly monotones.
There’s something in my very blood that owns
Bare hills, cold silver on a sky of slate,
A thread of water, churned to milky spate
Streaming through slanted pastures fenced with stones.
I love those skies, thin blue or snowy gray,
Those fields sparse-planted, rendering meagre sheaves;
That spring, briefer than apple-blossom’s breath,
Summer, so much too beautiful to stay,
Swift autumn, like a bonfire of leaves,
And sleepy winter, like the sleep of death.
~Elinor Wylie from “Wild Peaches”
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Shattered and Scattered

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That cause can never be lost nor stayed
Which takes the course of what God has made;
And is not trusting in walls and towers,
But slowly growing from seeds to flowers.

Each noble service that has been wrought
Was first conceived as a fruitful thought;
Each worthy cause with a future glorious
By quietly growing becomes victorious.

Thereby itself like a tree it shows:
That high it reaches, as deep it grows;
And when the storms are its branches shaking,
It deeper root in the soil is taking.

Be then no more by a storm dismayed,
For by it the full grown seeds are laid;
And though the tree by its might it shatters,
What then, if thousands of seeds it scatters?
~Kristian Ostergaard   Source: from a Danish hymn, translated by J.C. Aaberg

 

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Bring the Frost

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Season of ripening fruit and seeds, depart;
There is no harvest ripening in the heart.

Bring the frost that strikes the dahlias down
In one cruel night. The blackened buds, the brown
And wilted heads, the crippled stems, we crave –
All beauty withered, crumbling to the grave.
Wind, strip off the leaves, and harden, ground,
Till in your frozen crust no break is found.

Then only, when man’s inner world is one
With barren earth and branches bared to bone,
Then only can the heart begin to now
The seeds of hope asleep beneath the snow;
Then only can the chastened spirit tap
The hidden faith still pulsing in the sap.

Only with winter-patience can we bring
The deep-desired long-awaited spring.
~Anne Morrow Lindbergh “No Harvest Ripening”

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The Peaceableness of Topsoil

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The most exemplary nature is that of the topsoil.
It is very Christ-like in its passivity and beneficence,
and in the penetrating energy that issues
out of its peaceableness.
It increases by experience,
by the passage of seasons over it,
growth rising out of it
and returning to it,
not by ambition or aggressiveness.
It is enriched
by all things that die
and enter into it.

It keeps the past,
not as history or as memory,
but as richness, new possibility.
Its fertility is always building up
out of death into promise.
Death is the bridge or the tunnel
by which its past
enters its future.
~Wendell Berry from “The Native Hill”

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