November 22, 2007 [LINK / comment]

A day for giving thanks

For a country that has been as blessed as the United States, it is quite fitting that we have a national holiday devoted to thanking God for all that we have. (Otherwise, some of us might forget!*) Thanksgiving should serve to instill in all of us a sense not just gratitude to Our Creator, but also a sense of obligation to share -- voluntarily! -- our blessings with those who are less fortunate than us, especially those in countries afflicted by poverty and oppression.

Thanksgiving is unique in being a religious holiday that is inter-faith: You can observe it just as well, whether you are a Christian or a Jew -- or even a Buddhist, Muslim, or Hindu. In Emmanuel Episcopal Church, we had our annual Harvest Breakfast two Sundays ago, an occasion for expressing thanks and stewardship. During the service, I joined several other musicians in performing a series of bluegrass/folk songs, including the classic "Bringing in the Sheaves" and two songs from the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? My contribution was "Fly Away Home," by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils. (!) Later it occurred to me how appropriate it is for this time of year: millions of Americans are flying home for the holiday.

* Here's a provocative thought: In an age in which the dominant political discourse centers around various people's claims on public resources as a birthright (health care, highways, etc.), perhaps we should have a national holiday to celebrate our culture of dependency: Entitlements Day! (Just kidding. )

(Late) fall foliage

Is this a great state, or what?

Fall 2007 montage, Bald Cypress closeup

A few random images from last month. Clockwise, from top left: Pumpkin patch east of Afton, the Industrial park north of Staunton, a Baldcypress tree at Sweet Briar College, and the pastures along Bell's Lane. Roll mouse over image to see a close-up of the Baldcypress tree, one of the very few conifers that is deciduous; the needles fall off in the winter.