In place of a homily, the Rev. Dr. C. Eric Funston offered the congregation two poems by contemporary poets on Thanksgiving Day, November 24, 2016, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio, where Fr. Funston is rector.
(The lessons for the day are from the Revised Common Lectionary for Thanksgiving Day in Year C: Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Psalm 100; Philippians 4:4-9; and St. John 6:25-35 These lessons can be read at The Lectionary Page.)
My Work is Loving the World
by Mary Oliver
My work is loving the world
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird..
Equal seekers of sweetness,
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums,
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect?
Let me keep my mind on what matters,
Which is my work
Which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
The phoebe, the delphinium,
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,
Which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart and these body-clothes
A mouth with which to give shouts of joy to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam
Telling them all, over and over, how it is that we live forever.
* * * * * * * *
by Malcolm Guite
Thanksgiving starts with thanks for mere survival,
Just to have made it through another year
With everyone still breathing. But we share
So much beyond the outer roads we travel;
Our interweavings on a deeper level,
The modes of life embodied souls can share,
The unguessed blessings of our being here,
The warp and weft that no one can unravel.
So I give thanks for our deep coinherence
Inwoven in the web of God’s own grace,
Pulling us through the grave and gate of death.
I thank him for the truth behind appearance,
I thank him for his light in every face,
I thank him for you all, with every breath.
Image: The First Thanksgiving 1621, oil on canvas by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1899). It’s a painting filled with misconceptions and misinformation about the first Thanksgiving, but it’s lovely and romantic and fills our imaginations on this day.
Father Funston is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina, Ohio.