Improv on Isaiah 40: 1-11 for Thanksgiving in US

The Thanksgiving holiday in the United States is a strange celebration, made legal in the midst of the war called by some the Civil War and by others the War between the States and referencing the two hundred years earlier story of compassion by the Native peoples in Massachusetts upon meeting religious non-conformist immigrants from Europe — Pilgrims and Puritans. The devastating subsequent history of the relationship between the Europeans and those whose lands they coveted gives great pause and yet does not remove the honoring of the memory of such people as Squanto or the many attempts to form covenant relationships.

I’ve chosen today simply to record my experience of contemporary people in the grocery store preparing for next week’s gatherings, in this Improv on Isaiah’s familiar words … “Comfort, comfort ye my people …”

I’m walking the grocery aisles at Thanksgiving
when I hear Isaiah, an Advent scripture,
right behind me – where a woman is reading bags of stuffing.
Comfort, comfort my people.
Speak tenderly to them,
speak some turkey, some family or strangers,
some folks in the shelter  —
speak tenderly and teach them to say … thanks.

A voice cries — in whatever wilderness we wander
there can be a straight path
whether we need the valley of depression lifted up,
the potholes of truly bad circumstances filled in,
or the hills … of worry or debt or
anxiety about someone precious,
all the things that seem so Himalayan
shrink to the molehills of reality.

Every one of us cries.
Every one of us cries.
Every one of us knows our lives are like grass,
easily withered November grass,
brown in the back yard.
Every breath we take fades it, but never mind,
there are some good tidings –

for these people, these incandescently beautiful people
who have come to buy their groceries –
the grandmother with the infant in the cart,
the unemployed man with a bag of chips and a six-pack
for friends and football,
the young woman planning her first pie,
the lonely elderly couple just buying toothpaste
when bags of cranberries are on sale –

good tidings for these sheep, these shoppers, anyone
who needs to be gathered in arms,
comforted and carried and led, gently led.

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5 Responses to Improv on Isaiah 40: 1-11 for Thanksgiving in US

  1. Cheryl Hoffman says:

    Thank you Maren. This is lovely.


  2. Kris Firth says:

    Nice, Maren. Thank you for this.

  3. rezrevres says:

    Really enjoyed your imagry and turn of phrase. Matthew

  4. Maren says:

    Thank you very much, both of you and blessing on your day!

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