You may have guessed from multiple uses, that Mary Oliver is one of my favorite poets. I think it is because my “door” into getting to know God was through the natural world. I share below her poem, “Goldenrod” as a way to think about stewardship and thanksgiving:
On roadsides, in fall fields, in rumpy bunches, saffron and orange and pale gold, in little towers, soft as mash, sneeze bringers and seed-bearers, full of bees and yellow beads and perfect flowerlets and orange butterflies.
I don’t suppose much notice comes of it, except for honey, and how it heartens the heart with its blank blaze.
I don’t suppose anything loves it except, perhaps, the rocky voids filled by its dumb dazzle.
For myself, I was just passing by, when the wind flared and the blossoms rustled, and the glittering pandemonium leaned on me.
I was just minding my own business when I found myself on their straw hillsides, citron and butter-colored, and was happy, and why not?
Are not the difficult labors of our lives full of dark hours? And what has consciousness come to anyway, so far, that is better than these light-filled bodies?
All day on their airy backbones they toss in the wind, they bend as though it was natural and godly to bend,
they rise in a stiff sweetness, in the pure peace of giving one’s gold away.
As a steward of God’s lucious, over-flowing, renewing bounty of life, I want to be like a stalk of goldenrod. I want to bring happiness to others, simply by shining with my own “citron or saffron colored light.” I want to bend in thanksgiving to God as if it was the most natural movement my body could make. After my fractured vertebral body, let me tell you, this bending is not quite so natural. I am working on it, however, and am thankful for a marvelous therapist who bends the unyielding in me gently, ever so gently, until I am using my own core muscles again and have taken responsibility for my own bending. I like stewardship teachers like this!
I love the idea that my stewardship can be born of pure peace – and the unconscious willingness to give my gold away. I also love that other golden rod plants, or persons who are farther along in their peaceful and unconscious giving, can lean on me as I pass and in their leaning, pass on their glittering pandemonium until it leaves its “all”, its “pandemonium” on my very skin, so I, too, shine.
November is our season of focusing intently on our giving – our motivation for giving, our hope of being taught how to open wide both hands, with nothing held behind our backs. A time when we learn just a bit more about giving gifts with joy, natural obedience, trust and without judgement or the hope of a profitable return.
Who would have thought golden rod could be such a lively metaphor for generous giving? Who would have thought that God could have placed such a “rumpy bunch” as us together in this place we call “church” and invited us to shine with the life-giving golden light of the Son?
I have a hint of who, but this “seed planter” is not giving away the secret – that motivational speaker is doing just fine leaving messages of hope, community, and generosity everywhere, literally everywhere! Maybe even especially in the rocky voids where those who are seeking most desparately, can be rewarded with the dazzle tucked into even the darkest crevice.
The world around us is ablaze this fall (and every season) with messages of generosity and thankfulness. May we open our eyes while the colors shimmer before us. May we turn our focus from “minding our own business” to the work of discovering where God has planted the next clue needed to master the art of gracious stewarding on Her behalf. AND, may we then use that clue to solve the dilemma brought on by the question, “What shall I bring to God that is an acceptable offering?” I guarantee that standing before even the smallest patch of goldenrod, part of your answer will be: “thanksgiving, wonder, the gifts of my life and praise!
Blessings before and aft be yours,
Lectionary Readings and Sermons for November 2019
November 3 Sacrament of Communion
Habakkuk 1:1-4 and 2:1-4 & Luke 19:1-10
Sermon: “A Vision of Transforming Love”
November 10 Deacons’ Meeting at 11:30
Psalm 98 and Job 19:23-27a
Sermon: “Singing the Faith”
November 17 Youth Sunday
Isaiah 65:17-25 ane Luke 21:5-19
Sermon: “By Your Endurance You will Gain your Soul”
November 24 – Fresh Vegetables for the Thanksgiving Boxes
Jeremiah 23:1-6 and Colossians 1:11-20
Sermon: “Rescued into the Light”
Sacrament of Baptism and Cross Roads Cooking