Yesterday morning the church choir sang an old-fashioned romantic piece of music that I first learned as a beginning voice student. It’s called “Thanks Be to God” by Stanley Dickson and it has the word “bedight” in it. That’s enough to mark it as a piece for Aunt Maud to sing for The Special Music at a Sunday evening church service. It schmaltzes along in a waltz meter, full of romantic harmonies as only Noble Cain could do, and we loved singing it! The song begins:
Thanks be to God for roses rare.
My childhood church would have considered that line too secular for Sunday morning. Or Sunday evening. Or Wednesday night pray service. The second verse continues:
Thanks be to God for lovely night,
For mystic fields with stars bedight,
For hours of dream and deep delight.
Now this would have been downright pagan, especially the usage of “dream” in the singular.
Even though I was raised fundamentalist Protestant, I can get religiously verklempt. And I did when this little church choir got up there, a dozen strong, and sang their UCC hearts out in four-part harmony which I had transposed down and re-written so there was no screeching:
For all the joy that now is mine, thanks be to God.
This is not the time for me to engage in hermeneutics and I don’t want to ruin the moment by bloviating about my notion of the meaning of “God.” (N.B.-See other blog entries for that. They’re under “Spirituality.”) By the time we finished singing, I felt full and complete. I have too often in my life under-estimated the amount of joy– and hope and love, for that matter– just laying around for the taking.
Thanksgiving Day, the American holiday least susceptible to the influence of popular culture, is this week. Then comes a series of events like –as my longest known friend, Mary-Ellis says—storms from Alaska. ( http://www.elenalouiserichmond.com/2010/11/doin-our-stuff/.) One after another, here they come: Dibble House Holiday Sale, Home for the Holidays Sale, the OK Chorale’s concert and Green Lake luminaria concert, an annual dinner at the home of my painting buddy, Susan, my *Book Launch* at the Secret Garden Book Shop, singing at yet another Christmas concert, a Terrified Adults and Spotlight Whores Christmas afternoon, and finally the Christmas Eve service. I must have been out of my mind to agree to any of this, except maybe Susan’s dinner and of course, the *Book Launch.*
So it’s good that Thanksgiving is going to be quiet. This year my neighbor Gwen who knows something about just about everything, is in residence. We decided that we would share the dinner and dispense with all parts we didn’t care about. Pursuant to this decision, I stated frankly that I didn’t care about the turkey; I just wanted lots of stuffing and gravy.
So Gwen is doing a chicken because it’s easier and to get the gravy. She’s making the stuffing because I have never been good at it. She’s also responsible for the potatoes but I don’t think she knows it yet. Baked is fine, I don’t care about mashed especially with the outrageous trend to mash garlic into them. Garlic has its place but not in the mashed potatoes, thank you very much.
I am baking a pumpkin pie because only recently, for the first time in my 57 years, have I tasted a good pumpkin pie. Now that I know how good they can be, I am game to try one; game in the sense of it being diverting, not as in a slaughtered Thanksgiving turkey. I am also doing cranberry sauce and my mother’s celery almondine which tastes better than it sounds like it would.
We will share a meal, watch a movie at The Gwen, drink some Irish whiskey and spend the other 21 hours of the day in our respective caves. Whatever your plans for Thursday, whether it’s a holiday or a regular work day, be safe and well; and don’t underestimate the love, joy, and hope that is there for the taking.