Thanksgiving Repentance

Senator James Harlan of Iowa, whose daughter later married President Lincoln’s son Robert, introduced a resolution in the Senate on March 2, 1863. The resolution asked President Lincoln to proclaim a national day of prayer and fasting. The resolution was adopted on March 3rd, and signed by Lincoln on March 30th, one month before the fast day was observed:

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us.

We have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and pray for clemency and forgiveness.” ~Abraham Lincoln, 1863.

When I see and hear a politician call the nation to repentance in the same kind of plain and confrontational words that this resolution uses, when I see that politician commit himself personally to repentance and prayer, then I will vote for that man or that woman with a clear conscience, Democrat or Republican or any other party. I am so tired of crooked, hypocritical, predator politicians who cover their own sins and ask us to join them in prayer that God will bless America. And I am tired of the people who make excuses and cover up sin and ridicule the prayers of broken and hurting people and tell us that “nobody is perfect” when the phrase suits their agenda, but point judgmental fingers at the sins of those who don’t agree with their particular political slant.

We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Our only hope is the mercy and grace of God that is mediated through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And the sooner we get on our knees and pray for God’s mercy on this nation and on this world, the sooner we will be truly blessed and forgiven and preserved as a light and a “city on a hill” and a broken but redeemed blessing to others.

It’s not our health care system or our tax structure or our education system that is broken, although all of these may need repair. It’s we the people of the United States who have grown, as Lincoln said, “in numbers wealth and power”, but have forgotten grace, and humility and prayer. It’s me; I am more broken than the schools or the hospitals or the taxing authorities or anything else in this country. We are a broken people, and we see and experience things that are evil and we call them good so that we won’t feel badly about ourselves.

This Thanksgiving, Lord, have mercy on us. Give us clemency and forgiveness. Forgive us for treating the sojourner (the immigrant) as an enemy and an alien instead of extending hospitality and kindness. Forgive us for making excuses for those who would prey on children and on defenseless women and make them the objects of their sexual appetites and lust for power. Forgive us for believing lies when those lies suit our political ends and for disbelieving truth for the same reasons. Forgive us for murdering our own children in the womb before they even have an opportunity to breathe. Forgive us for watching violence and sexual perversion on screens as if it is acceptable as long as it is just pretend and done in the name of entertainment. Forgive us for taking Your holy name in vain, for ridiculing prayer and worship, and for thinking we are little gods ourselves, strong enough and wise enough and righteous enough to put the world to rights and make this nation “great again.”

God is Great. God is Good.
Let us thank Him for our food.

I learned that prayer about sixty years ago, and God help me if I have grown too wise in my own eyes to pray the same humble prayer now.

God, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Holy Spirit, forgive us and make us whole.

Autumn Beginnings

Hooray for fall! Here are a few introductory lines from children’s fiction books with an autumn setting—or at least, an autumn beginning:

MoominValley in November by Tove Jansson. “Early one morning in Moominvalley Snufkin woke up in his tent with the feeling that autumn had come and that it was time to break camp.”

B Is for Betsy by Carolyn Haywood. ” . . . this morning Betsy was so busy feeling unhappy that she forgot all about the birds. Betsy was unhappy because today was the first day of school. She had never been to school, and she was sure she would not like it.”

The Moffats by Eleanor Estes. “The way Mama could peel apples! A few turns of the knife and there the apple was, all skinned! . . . Jane sighed. Her mother’s peeling fell off in long lovely curls, while, for the life of her, Jane couldn’t do any better than these thick little chunks which she popped into her mouth.”

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. “It was a dark and stormy night.”

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater. “It was an afternoon in late September. In the pleasant little city of Stillwater, Mr. Popper, the house painter, was going home from work.”

Freddy Plays Football by Walter R. Broooks. “Jinx, the black cat, was curled up in the exact center of the clean white counterpane that Mrs. Bean had just put on the spare room bed.”

The Bully of Barkham Street by Mary Stolz. “Martin Hastings wriggled at his desk. He squirmed and yawned and wished the bell would ring. It was the last period of the day, a hazy, hot fall day, and he was restless.”

Bridge to Terebithia by Katherine Paterson. “He began to trot across the yard. His breath was coming out in little puffs—cold for August. But it was early yet.”

Mystery Over the Brick Wall by Helen Fuller Orton. “One afternoon in late September the four members of the Bond family piled into their car for a very exciting trip. They were starting to a city fifty miles away, where they were to have a new home.”

Flaming Arrows by William O. Steele. “‘I reckon it’s suppertime,’ remarked Chad, letting his ax slip to the ground. He straightened up slowly. He was bone-tired, and his back was one fierce ache. But he was proud of himself. He figured he had never worked so hard in all his eleven years, for he’d spent this livelong day chopping trees and had done a man’s work.”

Sounder by William Armstrong. “The tall man stood at the edge of the porch. The roof sagged from the two rough posts which held it, almost closing the gap between his head and the rafters. The dim light from the cabin window cast long equal shadows from man and posts. A boy stood nearby shivering in the cold October wind. He ran his fingers back and forth over the broad crown of a coon dog named Sounder.”

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink. “On a bright Saturday afternoon in the early fall, Tom and Caddie and Warren Woodlawn sat on a bank of the Menomonie River, or Red Cedar as the call it now, taking off their clothes.”

Ramona’s World by Beverly Cleary. “It was a warm September day, and Ramona, neat and clean, with lunch bag in hand, half skipped, half hopped, scrunching through dry leaves on the sidewalk. She was early, she knew, but Ramona was the sort of girl who was always early because something might happen that she didn’t want to miss.”

The Great Brain at the Academy by John D. Fitzgerald. “When my brother Tom began telling people in Adenville, Utah, that he had a great brain everybody laughed at him, including his own family. We all thought he was trying to play some joke on us. But after he had used his great brain to swindle all the kids in town and make fools of a lot of grownups nobody laughed at my brother anymore. I think that was why just about everybody in town except his own family was glad to see Tom leave Adenville on September 1, 1897.”

51 Sycamore Lane, or A Spy in the Neighborhood by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat. “School starts tomorrow and I bet the first assignment in Miss Nathan’s English class will be a composition titled ‘How I Spent My Summer Vacation.’ This would be my third year with the same title.”

Now Thank We All Our God

'Thanksgiving Postcards 1' photo (c) 2010, Minnesota Historical Society - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/” I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.” ~Abraham Lincoln, October 1863.

We are not in an actual civil war, but we Americans certainly are in need on this Thanksgiving Day, 2016, of the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of this nation and to restore it to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and Union. Amen and may it be so.

Some hae meat and canna eat, –
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.
~Robert Burns

“For, after all, put it as we may to ourselves, we are all of us from birth to death guests at a table which we did not spread. The sun, the earth, love, friends, our very breath are parts of the banquet…. Shall we think of the day as a chance to come nearer to our Host, and to find out something of Him who has fed us so long?” ~Rebecca Harding Davis

“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.” ~Henry David Thoreau

In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. I Thessalonians 5:18

Psalm 150

Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.

October 25th

1154: Henry II becomes King of England. Henry was married to the much older (nine to eleven years older) Eleanor of Aquitaine, who had been previously married to the King of France, Louis VII, until she managed to get her marriage annulled. Henry himself was nineteen years when he married Eleanor and only twenty-one when he became King of England. Henry and Eleanor had eight children, thereby creating much opportunity for future confusion and conflict regarding the throne of England. (I also have eight children, but no throne for them to fight over; therefore, I hope to see no internecine conflict among my progeny.)

Movies/drama featuring Henry II: Becket, The Lion in Winter, Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot.

Historical fiction:
When Christ and His Saints Slept by Sharon Kay Penman
Time and Chance by Sharon Kay Penman
Devil’s Brood by Sharon Kay Penman
A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver by E.L. Konigsburg

1400: Geoffrey Chaucer (birthday unknown) died on October 25, 1400. His Canterbury Tales begins with the words:

Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote
The droghte of March hath perced to the roote,
And bathed every veyne in swich licour
Of which vertu engendred is the flour;
Whan Zephirus eek with his sweete breeth
Inspired hath in every holt and heeth
The tender croppes, and the yonge sonne
Hath in the Ram his half cours yronne,
And smale foweles maken melodye,
That slepen al the nyght with open ye
(So Priketh hem Nature in hir corages),
Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages …

1415: The Battle of Agincourt on St. Crispin’s Day.

1764: John Adams (28) weds Abigail Smith (19) in Weymouth, Massachusetts. Their marriage lasted 54 years.

You bid me burn your letters. But I must forget you first. John Adams in a letter to Abigail Adams, April 28, 1776.

John Adams’ Advice to His Children.
On the Character of John Adams.

1854: The Battle of Balaklava during the Crimean War and the Charge of the Light Brigade. Tennyson wrote his famous poem about the charge after reading a newspaper report.

1881: Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga, Spain.

1952: Engineer Husband was born in Buda, Texas. Happy Birthday, my love.

Poetry Friday: October’s Bright Blue Weather by Helen Hunt Jackson

Novelist, poet, and activist Helen Hunt Jackson was born October 15, 1830. She wrote a nonfiction book titled A Century of Dishonor in which she exposed government mistreatment of the Native American peoples. “Jackson sent a copy to every member of Congress with a quote from Benjamin Franklin printed in red on the cover: ‘Look upon your hands: they are stained with the blood of your relations.'” (Wikipedia, Helen Hunt Jackson) She also wrote a novel, Ramona, in which she endeavored to dramatize the plight of Native Americans in the same manner as her friend Harriet Beecher Stowe had done for black slaves in her novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

Ms. Jackson’s poetry was much more light-hearted and celebratory than her prose.

Woodbine from Flickr via Wylio
© 2012 Robert Engberg, Flickr | CC-BY | via Wylio
O suns and skies and clouds of June,
And flowers of June together,
Ye cannot rival for one hour
October’s bright blue weather;

When loud the bumblebee makes haste,
Belated, thriftless vagrant,
And goldenrod is dying fast,
And lanes with grapes are fragrant;

When gentians roll their fingers tight
To save them for the morning,
And chestnuts fall from satin burrs
Without a sound of warning;

When on the ground red apples lie
In piles like jewels shining,
And redder still on old stone walls
Are leaves of woodbine twining;

When all the lovely wayside things
Their white-winged seeds are sowing,
And in the fields still green and fair,
Late aftermaths are growing;

When springs run low, and on the brooks,
In idle golden freighting,
Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush
Of woods, for winter waiting;

When comrades seek sweet country haunts,
By twos and twos together,
And count like misers, hour by hour,
October’s bright blue weather.

O sun and skies and flowers of June,
Count all your boasts together,
Love loveth best of all the year
October’s bright blue weather.

Rejoice in God’s gift of a new October. Count the hours like a miser, and enjoy the bright blue weather in pairs or alone. That’s my plan.

Poetry Friday Is On! at the Miss Rumphius Effect.

Autumn Nature Reading

I found these two related posts about good nature books for children and adults in a long ago Carnival of Children’s Literature that I can’t get to now. I’m glad I saved the links.

Beth at Real Learning has a whole 12 weeks worth of autumn nature reading suggestions for an intensive nature study. I’m thinking we should do this someday. Maybe I’d become more of a nature lover if I made myself get outside and read and study and observe along with the urchins.

At the imponderabilia of actual life, Sandy lists her favorite nature books for children. Her favorite and featured author is John Himmelmann. I’m not familiar with this author, but I’m going to grab some of his books on her recommendation. The books sound wonderful.

Some of my favorite nature books and authors:

Jean Craighead George. Ms. George has written over 100 books, some fiction and some nonfiction, all related in some way to nature and the great outdoors. My favorite fiction of hers is My Side of the Mountain, a Newbery Honor book about Sam Gribley, a boy who leaves his home in New York City to live alone on the side of a mountain. She’s also written some delightful nonfiction, including Acorn Pancakes, Dandelion Salad, and 38 Other Wild Recipes, All Upon a Stone, and One Day in the Tropical Rain Forest.

Jim Arnosky. Mr. Arnosky is both a wildlife artist and an acute observer of nature. His drawing books, about how to draw animals, and his guidebooks that encourage kids to observe and learn, are all fantastic.

Gail Gibbons. Ms. Gibbons is the queen of nonfiction, as far as I’m concerned, writing about almost everything science and technology-related. However, her books The Seasons of Arnold’s Apple Tree and The Pumpkin Book are two of my favorite autumnal treats.

Margaret Waring Buck. “Margaret Waring Buck wrote and illustrated a number of books explaining how animals live in the wild. The typical Buck nature book contains detailed black-and-white drawings of the plants, animals, insects and birds to be found in a particular outdoors location, along with an explanatory text ideal for young naturalists who are beginning to learn about the subject.” ~Dodd Center

Anna Botsford Comstock. Mrs. Comstock was an artist, conservationist, teacher and naturalist during the first half of the twentieth century. Her Handbook of Nature Study became a standard text for teachers, and she was the first female professor at Cornell University.

Diana Hutts Aston. Ms. Aston wrote A Seed Is Sleepy and An Egg Is Quiet and A Butterfly Is Patient, all three wonderful introductions to the wonders of the natural world that God made. An Egg Is Quiet, illustrated by Sylvia Long, won the first Cybils award for picture book nonfiction in 2007.

Nic Bishop. Nic Bishop is known for his nature photography. His book Nic Bishop Frogs won a Cybils award in 2008 for its just right combination of beautiful photos and informative text.

Who are your favorite nature study authors, and what books do you recommend for nature study as we move into the autumn season?

Thanksgiving

'Thanksgiving Postcards 1' photo (c) 2010, Minnesota Historical Society - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/“Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. It behooves us then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.” ~Abraham Lincoln, Proclamation of a National Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer, March 30, 1863

Some hae meat and canna eat, –
And some wad eat that want it;
But we hae meat, and we can eat,
Sae let the Lord be thankit.
~Robert Burns

“For, after all, put it as we may to ourselves, we are all of us from birth to death guests at a table which we did not spread. The sun, the earth, love, friends, our very breath are parts of the banquet…. Shall we think of the day as a chance to come nearer to our Host, and to find out something of Him who has fed us so long?” ~Rebecca Harding Davis

“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual. O how I laugh when I think of my vague indefinite riches. No run on my bank can drain it, for my wealth is not possession but enjoyment.” ~Henry David Thoreau

Psalm 150

Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.

Thank God for Books

Rather than do a Thanksgiving book post of my own, I thought I’d share some links to some of the Thanksgiving book delicious-ness that I’ve discovered at other blogs in the wake of KidLitCon. I’ve been visiting the blogs that are linked to the Kidlitosphere website, and many of the bloggers have Thanksgiving book posts. So I’m thanking the Lord of all for kidlit bloggers and for books that inspire us to gratitude for the many blessings we have.

Thankgiving links of the bookish sort by Amy at Hope is the Word.

Thanksgiving book reviews at Christian Children’s Book Review.

5 Books about Thanksgiving from Melissa at Inner Child Learning.

Redeemed Reader: Looking Forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Delightful Children’s Books: 10 Children’s Books to Celebrate Thanksgiving.

Delightful Children’s Books: A Bookish Advent Calendar. Somebody else I know online does something like this for her children during advent. Anyway, it’s not strictly “thanksgiving”, but it would be necessary to prepare now.

And a couple of picture book lists for your early Christmas shopping perusal:

Betsy at Redeemed Reader: Favorite Picture Books of 2013

Laurel Snyder: 2013 Best Picture Books by Women

I Love Booklists! Thank you, God, for many things: family, friends, church, Engineer Husband, health, home, BOOKS, and READING.

P.S. MotherReader has published her annual list of 150 Ways to Give a Book. What a great resource for bookish gifts!

U.S. Constitution Day

Constitution Day is celebrated in the United States each year on September 17th, the day that the U.S. Constitutional Convention signed the Constitution in 1787. Educational institutions receiving funding through the Department of Education are required to participate by holding educational programs pertaining to the U.S. Constitution. I think this particular instance of unwarranted interference by the federal government in educational affairs is probably unconstitutional, but well-meaning and perhaps helpful. At any rate, if you want to introduce students—or yourself– to the U.S. Constitution and its meaning, here are some titles to help you to do so:

Miracle at Philadelphia by Catherine Drinker Bowen. Subtitled “The Story of the Constitutional Convention May to September 1787,” this book is the one that gave me the story of the US constitution. It’s suitable for older readers, at least middle school age, but it’s historical writing at its best. I loved reading about Luther Martin of Maryland, whom Henry Adams described as “the notorious reprobate genius.” Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts who was”always satisfied to shoot an arrow without caring about the wound he caused.” (Both Gerry and Martin refused to sign the final version of the Constitution.) Of course, there were Madison, known as the Father of the Constitution, George Washington, who presided over the convention in which all present knew that they were creating a presidency for him to fill, and Ben Franklin, the old man and elder statesman who had to be carried to the convention in a sedan chair. Ms. Bowen’s book brings all these characters and more to life and gives the details of the deliberations of the constitutional convention in readable and interesting format.

A More Perfect Union: The Story of Our Constitution by Betsy Maestro; illustrated by Guilio Maestro.

If You Were There When They Signed the Constitutionby Elizabeth Levy; illustrated by Joan Holub.

Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution by Jean Fritz; illustrated by Tomie dePaola.

We the Kids: The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States Illustrated by David Catrow.

We the People: The Story of Our Constitution by Peter Spier.

Great Little Madison by Jean Fritz.

Cobblestone: Celebrating Our Constitution. Cobblestone Publishing, September 1987. (magazine for kids)

Cobblestone: The Constitution of the United States. Cobblestone Publishing, September 1982. (magazine for kids)

Celebrate the Constitution game.

Poetry Friday: To Autumn by John Keats

'Yellow fruitfulness' photo (c) 2008, Tim Green - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

'' photo (c) 2012, Larry Miller - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

'Ickworth Park (NT) 01-04-2007' photo (c) 2007, Karen Roe - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,-
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

What lovely descriptive lines:
“season of mists and mellow fruitfulness”
“thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind”
“barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day”
“the small gnats mourn among the river sallows”

Could you even begin to describe a season, or a day, or a mood so vividly and beautifully? I couldn’t, which is why John Keats is the poet and I am me, a humble admirer of Keats’ craft.

Listen to Robert Pinsky read To Autumn.

For more poetry on this Friday or any day, see Poetry Friday at Author Amok.