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Pastor's Monthly Newsletter Message

November 2011


~A Pensive Time~


“Take full account of the excellencies which you possess,

and in gratitude remember how you would yearn for them if you had them not.”

~Marcus Aurelius


Dear Friends,


            Fall is a pensive time of year.  The days grow shorter and darker, making the gold-tinted sunlight even more precious than before.  Fall’s splendor is so fleeting.  Yesterday, the maple tree was brilliant in shades of yellow and orange; today its half-bare branches look like gnarled fingers, clutching at the sky.  The noises of the world are muffled beneath a mantle of russet leaves.  Our yard furniture is still sitting out—as if the summer might last forever, as if one more bright day might call us back out to lounge.  In the old days, fall was your last chance to batten down the hatches before winter came and stranded you beside the hearth.  All the summer’s long work needed to be done in preparation for the ruthless winter days ahead: all the harvesting, all the canning, all the cutting and stacking of firewood.  We don’t make those winter preparations anymore.  But fall still lends itself to retrospect; it’s a natural time to cast a backward glance over the bright days of summer.  It’s a time when many people take a kind of mental or spiritual stock of the year, which can lead to feelings of gratitude and generosity.


            Do you remember Aesop’s thanksgiving tale of Androcles and the Lion?


            A slave named Androcles escaped from his master and fled to the forest. As he was wandering about, he came upon a Lion moaning and groaning. At first he turned to flee, but finding that the Lion did not pursue him, he turned back and approached him. As he came near, the Lion put out his paw, which was all swollen and bleeding.  Androcles found that a huge thorn had got into it, and was causing all the pain. He pulled out the thorn and bound up the paw of the Lion, who was soon able to rise and lick the hand of Androcles like a dog. Then the Lion took Androcles to his cave, and every day used to bring him meat from which to live.            

            Shortly afterwards both Androcles and the Lion were captured, and the slave was sentenced to be thrown to the Lion, after the latter had been kept without food for several days. The Emperor and all his Court came to see the spectacle, and Androcles was led out into the middle of the arena. Soon the Lion was let loose from his den, and rushed bounding and roaring towards his victim. But as soon as he came near to Androcles he recognized his friend, and fawned upon him, and licked his hands like a friendly dog.

            The Emperor, surprised at this, summoned Androcles to him, who told him the whole story. The slave was pardoned and freed, and the Lion let loose to his native forest.


            It doesn’t even matter that lions don’t live in forests.  The story is timeless because it speaks to something that each of us knows: improbable relationships that spring from gratitude for some long-ago act of kindness.  Each of us nurtures deep bonds of affection, which trace their origins back to some long-ago gesture of grace.  Who are you grateful for, what personal saint, living or dead?  And how would that person want you to live-out your thanksgiving?  Summer will be back, but these are things to ponder, as the days grow colder and the light grows shorter.  In Christ’s Peace,