“But Thanks Be to God”: A Ninth Reflection

Today is the day the United States government designated for public thanksgiving to God, and so it is fitting for me to, as I have done for the past eight years on this day, reflect on the various ways God has blessed me over the course of my life, and in particular in the past year.

The failure of time in which to write and of memory, and my instinct to prefer brevity over repeating myself, ensure that my first reflection on this theme, in 2009, remains the most extensive and detailed; in subsequent years I have mostly more-briefly listed blessings I had forgotten and those I saw as new. Continue reading

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“Crowds”

“Hosanna! Savior, hail!” the masses cried
To greet their rightful King, though in their hearts
They shouted more to strain the chafing bonds
That long-oppressive Rome had laid on them
Than from true fealty to God’s anointed.

Not one week later, these same thronging crowds,
Incited by their leaders’ selfish plots
And stirred up into frenzied lust for blood,
Now clamored for their King to be condemned,
Abused, accursed, and put to gruesome death.

As he trudged through the streets, and up the hill,
Then hung in agony for his last hours,
The multitudes passed by to mock his end
Or stood to shout more scorn, but he was silent,
Suffering the bitter fate he chose
Without complaint, and even speaking grace
To those who tortured him before he died.

At last he breathed his final mortal breath
And cried his work’s completion to the sky;
An earthquake marked the opening of the way
That greater multitudes thereafter tread
Who have been, by his sufferings, brought to peace.

Photograph of Golgotha by an unknown photographer

I had long intended to write a poem for Good Friday, or at least for Holy Week, as in several of the last few years, but the first glimmers of an idea for the above only came to me less than a week ago.

As always, I earnestly welcome your comments, questions, critique, or other feedback about this or any other part of my work. If you’d like to read more of my poetry, you can read my archive (also organized in more manageable installments), follow this blog for (now only occasional) new poetry (among other things), or get my book, which contains over sixty of my best poems, each paired with a public-domain illustration or drawing. You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.

“Deo gratias”

“Thanks be to God!” let all my being say:
For light, and eyes to see it, breath of life,
Abundant water running clean and clear,
The harvest’s bounty, stars on high so fair,
Friendship’s warmth and kindness, family’s love,
The glory of the ever-changing earth,
And so much more—but let me not forget
That God deserves my greatest thanks of all
For the great mercy he has daily shown
To this unworthy sinner, in his grace
Accepting me, forgiving my offenses
(More each hour), and with his sworn assurance
Promising a lasting share in Christ.

Thanksgiving (Jennie Augusta Brownscombe)
I’ve had the beginning of this bouncing around in my head for several weeks, ever since I first tried to think about writing a poem for the week of Thanksgiving. But every time, it seemed, I tried to sit down to write any more of it, some distraction intervened, so I didn’t finish it until today.

As always, I earnestly welcome your questions, suggestions, or other comments about this or any other part of my work. If you’d like to read more of my poetry, you can read my archive (also organized in more manageable installments); get my book, which contains over sixty of my best poems, each paired with a public-domain illustration or drawing; or follow this blog for (now only occasional) new poetry (among other things). You may also share this poem with others, subject to my sharing policy.

“But Thanks Be to God”: An Eighth Reflection

Today is the day designated for public thanksgiving to our Creator for gracious gifts which his divine Providence has lavished upon us. Thus, it is fitting for me to, as I have done this day for the past seven years, reflect on the various and manifold blessings God has poured on me over the course of my life, and in particular this past year, and how I have responded to this beneficence (with the inevitable conclusion that I have utterly failed to show appropriate gratitude).

This is the eighth year I have written on this theme; in the first such reflection, in 2009, I explained the blessings I was grateful for at length and in some detail, and in subsequent years I have more briefly listed those blessings I had forgotten and those new in the past year. And so again today. Continue reading

“But Thanks Be to God”: A Seventh Reflection

This is the day designated publicly to give thanks to our Creator for the gracious gifts he has, in divine Providence, lavished upon us. And so it is fitting for me to, as I have done this day for the past six years, reflect on the manifold blessings with which God has showered me over the course of my life, and in particular the past year, and whether I have responded as I ought to this beneficence (to the inevitable conclusion that I have utterly failed to act in appropriate gratitude).

This is the seventh year I have written to describe and summarize those people, events, and things for which I give thanks to God; 2009 saw an extended reflection in which I explained them in some detail at length, and each subsequent year I have written an addendum, more briefly listing those blessings I had forgotten and those new in the past year. And so again today. Continue reading

“But Thanks Be to God”: A Sixth Reflection

Today is the day designated to publicly give thanks to our Creator for the gracious gifts which he in his divine Providence has lavished upon us. And so it is fitting to reflect on the manifold blessings God has poured out over the course of my life, and in particular in the past year. It is also fitting to consider whether my response to his beneficence has been suitable—and the inevitable conclusion is that I have utterly failed to act in appropriate gratitude.

Five years ago, I wrote an extended reflection, publicly giving thanks for the blessings I felt God had given me over the course of my life, and explaining them in some detail. And in each subsequent year, I have written a briefer addendum, of causes for gratitude I had forgotten and of those new in the past year.

So too today. Continue reading

“O Lord, who once rode through”

O Lord, who once rode through the city gate
In triumph, over scattered cloaks and palms
To children’s song and shouts of wild aclaim,
Yet weeping for the wrath that soon would come,
Come once again in triumph—make an end
Of striving, wars, against your perfect peace. Continue reading