Humbly Take Heart




Time out of mind
at this turn of the seasons

when the hardy oak leaves rustle in the wind
and the frost gives a tang to the air
and the dusk falls early
and the friendly evenings
lengthen under the heel of Orion,
it has seemed good to our people
to join together in praising the Creator and Preserver,
who has brought us by a way that we did not know
to the end of another year.
In observance of this custom,
I appoint Thursday, the twenty-sixth of November,
as a day of public Thanksgiving
for the blessings that have been our common lot
— for all the creature comforts:
the yield of the soil that has fed us
and the richer yield from labor of every kind
that has sustained our lives
— and for all those things,
as dear as breath to the body,
that nourish and strengthen our spirit
to do the great work still before us:
for the brotherly word and act;
for honor held above price;
for steadfast courage and zeal
in the long, long search after truth;
for liberty and for justice
freely granted by each to his fellow

and so as freely enjoyed;
and for the crowning glory and mercy of peace upon our land;
— that we may humbly take heart of these blessings
as we gather once again with solemn and festive rites
to keep our Harvest Home.
~Connecticut Governor Wilbur Cross — Thanksgiving Proclamation November 26, 1936


These words written almost 80 years ago this day still ring true.
Then a country crushed under the Great Depression,
now a country staggering under a Great Depression of the spirit~
ever more connected electronically,
yet more isolated from family, friends, faith,
more economically secure,
yet emotionally bankrupt.
May we humbly take heart
in the midst of creature comforts
we hardly acknowledge~
that we are able, in our abundance,
to care for others in need, just as
God, in His everlasting recognition
of our perpetual need of Him,
cares for us,
even when we don’t believe
we need Him.






The Clinging Mist








My Sorrow, when she’s here with me,
     Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
     She walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
     She talks and I am fain to list:
She’s glad the birds are gone away,
She’s glad her simple worsted gray
     Is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate, deserted trees,
     The faded earth, the heavy sky,
The beauties she so truly sees,
She thinks I have no eye for these,
     And vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
     The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
     And they are better for her praise.
~Robert Frost “My November Guest”


the month of darkening,
to a recounting of gratitude
of daily thanksgiving and blessings~~

it is good to dwell on our gifts,
even so, it is right
to invite Sorrow
to sit in silence with us,
her tears blending with ours.

These deepening days
of bare stripped branches
feed our growing need
for the covering grace
of His coming light.









Hang on to Hope




As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.

Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society — things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.

Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.


E. B. White ~from Letters of Note: Correspondence Deserving of a Wider Audience compiled by Shaun Usher


We can’t claw our way out of
the mess we’ve made of things;
it takes Someone
to dig us out of the hole,
brush us off,
clean us up,
and breathe fresh breath into our nostrils.
We can only hope
hope will be contagious.
We can only hope
and grab hold when His hand reaches down
to pick us up out of the dirt.
Classes are suspended at my University today




Let Your Heart Go Forth





The season of sunset as it draws a veil over the day,
befits that repose of the soul
when earthborn cares yield to the joys of heavenly communion.
The glory of the setting sun excites our wonder,
and the solemnity of approaching night awakens our awe.
If the business of this day will permit it, it will be well, dear reader,
if you can spare an hour to walk in the field at eventide,
but if not,
the Lord is in the town too,
and will meet with you in your chamber or in the crowded street.
Let your heart go forth to meet Him.

~Charles Spurgeon from his Morning and Evening Devotionals


Many of the young adults I see in my practice struggle to sleep at night. Their minds are racing, they can’t stop worrying, their bodies are tight with tension.
Their hope is I might prescribe a pill since they’ve tried marijuana and several shots of vodka, and that isn’t helping.

I would like to prescribe an hour with God at sunset but that is not permissible at a public institution.

Instead, I’m allowed to speak of emotional support animals, or yoga, or an evening stroll, or “meditation” or even a labyrinth walk, but never letting one’s heart go forth to meet God.

Spurgeon, out of his own anxiety and depression, knows the healing of a walk with God at sunset.
It is throwing the cares of the heart out to Him and knowing He will catch and hold them tight.





Grief Illuminated


A waning November moon reluctantly rose,
dimming from the full globe of the night before.
I drive a darkening country road, white lines sweeping past,
aware of advancing frost in the evening haze,
anxious to return home to familiar warmth and light.

Nearing a county road corner, slowing to a stop,
I glanced aside where
a lonely rural cemetery sits expectant.

Through open iron gates and tenebrous headstones,
there in the middle path, incongruous,
car’s headlights beamed bright.

I puzzled, thinking:
lovers or vandals would seek inky cover of night.

Instead, these lights focused on one soul alone,
kneeling graveside,
a hand resting heavily on a stone, head bowed in prayer.

This stark moment of solitary sorrow,
a visible grieving of a heart

illuminated by twin beams.

This benediction of mourning
as light pierced the blackness;

gentle fingertips traced
the engraved letters of a beloved name.

Feeling touched
as uneasy witness, I pull away

to drive deeper into the night,
struggling to see despite
my eyes’ thickening mist.

a full moon in Ireland



Angel of Grief--Stanford University

Angel of Grief, Stanford University Mausoleum

The Fogs of Our Soul





It was November —
the month of crimson sunsets,
parting birds,
deep, sad hymns of the sea,
passionate wind-songs in the pines.
Anne roamed through the pineland alleys in the park
and, let that great sweeping wind
blow the fogs out of her soul.

~L.M. Montgomery from Anne of Green Gables


Midway through November
there is inevitability
about the descent into winter,
the enveloping darkness
shrinking the day,
the cloister of fog banks
rolling in, sticky in mind and soul.

The winds come brisk,
even harsh,
a reminder of a bitter cold
not long far off.

The fogs will clear to prepare me,
to open me up,
though chilled by searing waves,
to a coming advent of change
for my broken spirit and longing heart.






Tears Need No Translation



The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places.
But still there is much that is fair. And though in all lands, love is now
mingled with grief, it still grows, perhaps, the greater.
— J. R. R. Tolkien

We forget that God is right there, waiting for us to turn to him, no matter how dire our situation.  We forget the reassuring words of his messengers: “Fear not.”   God always seeks to draw close to us — even in the depths of hell.

…it comes down to this: the only way to truly overcome our fear of death is to live life in such a way that its meaning cannot be taken away by death.  It means fighting the impulse to live for ourselves, instead of for others.  It means choosing generosity over greed.  It also means living humbly, rather than seeking influence and power.  Finally, it means being ready to die again and again — to ourselves, and to every self-serving opinion or agenda.
~Johann Christoph Arnold

We watch once again as unspeakable terror strikes down people so much like ourselves — those who are living ordinary lives, doing routine things.  Tears never need translation, no matter what foreign or local neighborhood soil is soaked with the blood of innocents.

Evil exists, visits our world daily and yesterday settled like a shroud over Paris.   As we learned after the airplanes-as-weapons tragedies of 9/11, massive expense, military action and legislation can barely keep evil-doers at bay and tend to even encourage them.   No place on this earth can ever be truly secure through the efforts of mere man.  After all, we too are fallen, and those who do evil can look so much like ourselves.

So we must fall back on what we were told long ago and each and every day in 365 different verses in the Word itself: fear not.
Do not be overwhelmed with evil but overcome evil with good.

The goal of this life is to live for others, to live in such a way that death cannot erase the meaning and significance of a life.  We are called to give up our selfish agendas in order to consider the needs of the other guy and the greater good.  Cherish life, all lives, including, as is crystal clear from Christ’s example,  those who hate and want to murder us.

Our only defense against evil is God’s offense; only He will lead us to Tolkien’s “where everything sad will come untrue”, where tears are no longer translated as sorrow,  but can only be understood as tears of joy.




Let my prayer arise~
Lord I have cried to Thee,
hearken unto Thee.
Incline not my heart
to evil words.