For the Beauty of the Earth
Each year the four seasons teach us about life and death. Winter is a season of stark dormancy, when animals and plants go into the earth in order to survive. Spring is a time of rebirth, of vitality. Summer is the bright, dynamic apex. And fall is the golden season of wisdom and reflection. This yearly cycle of life, death, and rebirth has so much wisdom to teach us about how to be alive.
Because autumn is the time of harvest, humans have historically spent this season giving thanks to the earth for sustenance.
Five Thanksgivings ago, I gave one of my last concerts as a professional musician at Wells Cathedral. I arrived a few days early in order to visit Bath, England and was transformed by the picturesque autumn scenes. I tried to soak in every detail: swans abiding over pristine ponds, sheep grazing under mighty oak trees, and the magical waters of the ancient Roman baths.
A century prior to my visit, the Bath native Folliot Pierpont mindfully described the same landscapes in his perennial Thanksgiving hymn:
For the beauty of the earth, For the glory of the skies, For the love which from our birth Over and around us lies
For the wonder of each hour, Of the day and of the night Hill and vale, and tree and flow’r, Sun and moon, and stars of light
For the joy of human love, Brother, sister, parent, child, Friends on earth and friends above, For all gentle thoughts and mild
Lord of all, to Thee we raise, This our hymn of grateful praise.
May we all notice the beauty, glory, wonder, and joy of being alive on Earth this Thanksgiving season.