Another November

November hasn't been a friendly month for our family, two years running. The oppressiveness of the vista surrounding us is a visual reflection of the darkness of circumstance and spirit that pervades. Death seeps in all autumn, reaching its zenith in this gray, muddy month of wavering between the seasons. Last year, cancer. This year, giving over a child yet unborn and yielding another we've cherished these three long years, submitting bodies to knives in surgery, and waiting almost desperately for the healing hand as the hours tick by without relief.

We know it will arrive, come December. The death scene of autumn's last waning warmth finally gives way to the blanket of rebirth that protects the deep secrets of the earth through the long winter. December is the resurrection of light and sparkle to the geography of pallor laid bare by the wind and inexorable wait that is November.

Yet He whispers, In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God, in Christ Jesus concerning you...(I Thessalonians 5:18) In the darkness of the first frost, the days of mud and gusty wind that follow and wipe your land and your soul clean of hope and beauty and sunlight, give thanks. In the new birth of that first white blanket of snow, give thanks.

In leavetaking, give thanks. Know that with leavetaking come reunions. Trust My timing. It is my will.

Through death comes life. As I showed on the Cross, as I show you in countless smaller ways throughout the long days of your life here. In kittens borne of dying mothers. In children dancing around a mother with cancer. In autumn turning to winter to spring. In everything give thanks.

In friends who face loss. In friends who welcome new, needy life. Friends who walk with you on a road of darkness and shine a lantern of hope, the lantern of Christ's hope, on your stumbling feet. Faithful is He who called you, who also will do it...

Give thanks for scars. Give thanks for living today, through cancer. Give thanks for what it has taught you: that you can wrestle God, although He will always win; that you can wrestle God, but be prepared to limp for a while afterwards; that you can lose to God, and He will still be your Friend; that you can beat on His chest, and He will draw you close. That faithful is He who called you, who also will do it: heal that scar in eternity. Answer your questions in eternity. Hold you close - and those you love close - for all eternity.

Give thanks for miracles. Give thanks for safety. Give thanks for the hope we have that destroys the power of death. Give thanks for tears. Give thanks for loneliness. Give thanks for births of all kinds, and burials of all kinds, too. In everything...

Give thanks for altars and give thanks for healers. Give thanks for pain and give thanks for relief. Give thanks for the agony of waiting, and the reprieve of waiting. Sufficient unto each this, too, as in everything else, give thanks.

Give thanks for the tightropes you walk. Give thanks for the grace that keeps you balanced on them. Give thanks for the rays of optimism that bleed into your soul as they spill from the hands and eyes and lips of your offspring. Give thanks for the tears that spill from those offspring, too, from wells of sorrow that you cannot heal or answer or erase. In everything, give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Coronado and 1,500 of his men celebrated Thanksgiving in 1541 at the Palo Duro Canyon in Texas. A month later, he was injured. His fortune squandered, his health precarious, his heart lonely, he returned empty handed after 2 years of wandering.

French colonists celebrated Thanksgiving in 1564 in St. Augustine, Florida. Less than a year later, the pious Huguenots were pillaged and destroyed by a Spanish raiding party.

The Jamestown settlers held a Thanksgiving feast in 1619 in Virginia, on the cusp of healing from the famine and disease that killed all but 12% of the original group. In his speech inaugerating Jamestown as a "city on a hill" for model Christian community and living, Governer John Winthrop reminded us
wee must delight in eache other, make others Condicions our owne rejoyce together, mourne together, labour, and suffer together, allwayes haveing before our eyes our Commission and Community in the worke.
I am comforted by the permission granted me in Ecclesiastes 3:
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance...

yet in all these seasons, in all these times, in mourning and in dancing, give thanks.