Overwhelmed with wonder

The antiphon in this morning’s reading in Common Prayer:A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals (Zondervan 2010) Struck me as I read it and then stuck with me as I cycled to work in the crisp fall air.

“Overwhelm us with wonder, Lord, that our souls might rest in awe.”

They helped me savour the bursts of colour on the maple trees and wild plum bushes I cycled past. They helped me give thanks for the growth of the basil and broccoli seedlings in my little greenhouse.

ImageThese little plants are certainly not overwhelming me with wonder yet, and I have realized they will need significant help from grow lights to thrive in this little corner of simulated summer, but I am grateful for these signs of new life, even while the blazing colours of fall leaves reveal the beauty that can be part of dying well.

Reflecting on the cycle of life, as a gift from the Giver of Life, does inspire my soul to rest in awe, even while my body is a little weary from harvesting and preserving tomatoes, potatoes and more.

Those of us who farm or garden in Manitoba, often wonder at how well plants grow in our short growing season.  And now that the harvesting and preserving is almost done, our bodies and our souls are ready to rest in awe at that wonder of creation.

We can’t all garden or farm, but we  can all be more aware and grateful for the  food we eat as we approach Thanksgiving. Here are some of the ways we can work at that, from my book, Please Pass the Faith: The Art of Spiritual Grandparenting,

Celebrating Thanksgiving with our families provides precious opportunities to relearn the important disciplines of respect, thanksgiving and harmonious interdependence with the land. God has placed us as here as caretakers and co-creators. While we can nurture attitudes of gratitude, and a healthy connection with the food we eat all year, Thanksgiving celebrations have a formational potential. We ignore these truths at the earth’s peril.

 Small actions help us to reclaim our place in the sacred balance of land, water, and the rest of creation, as we celebrate thanksgiving with children and grandchildren:

1.      Use thanksgiving feasts to celebrate the journey from the farm to your forks, as well as from seed to fruit. If you have access to land, grow produce, or raise small animals, as an intergenerational project with food to be shared on Thanksgiving.

2.      If you don’t have access to land, sensitivity to food issues and the miracles of plant growth are easily developed by growing a windowsill herb garden—a great activity to do together with grandchildren.

3.     If growing your own food isn’t possible, shop at local markets, or challenge older grandchildren to research the farm to fork journeys of the foods on your Thanksgiving table.

4.     Look for classic indigenous prayers of gratitude on the internet. They give thanks to the different aspects of creation and inspire growth in appreciation. Use one of these prayers to stimulate a list of things in creation that you are grateful for.

5.     Along with your invitation to Thanksgiving, ask children and grandchildren to think of family experiences in creation that they are grateful for. Take some time at the Thanksgiving table to share words of appreciation with each other for the many ways you bless each other.

6.     Make your family Thanksgiving an experience of taking hold of God’s presence, of responding to God’s call to remember that the earth is the Lord’s. Choose some of the above activities, and read Psalm 104 at the beginning or end of the meal.  (pp 122 -123)

Happy Thanksgiving!


About Elsie Hannah Ruth Rempel

As a young senior whose life could easily have ended in a nasty car crash in 2012 I live with an extra dose of gratitude to God, humanity, and the wonders of our human bodies. I am a passionate advocate for ministry WITH children and seniors in the life and ministry of the church. I started working in Faith Formation with Mennonite Church Canada in 2002. Thinking and writing about faith helps me see God at work in all kinds of surprising places. I'd like to be remembered as one who encourages others to live into God's good dream for our world. My book, Please Pass the Faith: The Spiritual Art of Grandparenting, is one big way I'm trying to share that encouragement with my peers. This blog is another way I'd like to engage people who care about growing in faith across the generations.
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One Response to Overwhelmed with wonder

  1. Linda Enns says:

    Thanks, Elsie, for the lovely thought in your bio, “I’d like to be remembered as…” I will ponder on it.

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