The season of the great Diaspora of families is in process as I write this. Thanksgiving is such a mandate! The motor cars are serviced and ready to range far into the wilder lands of the many states.
To be reminded that one is not alone, that we come from a cluster of other folk who have been very significant in our lives and return to their bosom, which is not always comfortable, is a great service.
It is our annual reminder of belonging. We are a crop in a perennial cycle. We have a finite number of returns, to gaze upon — and to reconnect.
Families driving out to the older places where they came from, to return in a wave of nostalgia. Seeing how much older the older ones now are, taking measure of what is needed. Realizing that some things, such as relationships, are not forever and that our lives are like the grass of the field.
This Thanksgiving season my son and his wife have moved away from us into their first purchased house. Not big, but kind of perfect for them, miles away from us in Salem. I can sense the pride and fear in the kids, but they are kids no more, they are now sharers of a larger field of responsibility and an undercurrent of anxiety that is our lot. Anxiety comes with possessions that can be taken from us by circumstance.
The hummingbirds, my favorite magical birds, are still coming by our windows, as my wife had engineered an environment that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. I like the hummingbirds that look me in the eye through our window panes. In our front garden my wife arranged for an African key-hole garden to be built, a sizable construction that has at its core a cage for food refuse that we tip our waste food into. The food decomposes and is designed to run out as a nutritious sap to add to the healthiness and nutrient value of the garden.
My wife has been a member of the Oregon Master Gardeners for about a year and nine months. She graduated from their program about a year ago and it has made all the difference. It is a theology in action, knowing the processes and arts of the creator. A gardener is an engineer of Eden.
Oregon is a holy place because of its gardening enthusiasts, people who want to be assistants to the angels making beauty arise out of the earth. My wife found her peace and her joy by participating in this group — and she travels in the week to a children’s program for the local school district.
This last week I have grown closer to the Canby Grove, which back in the 1920s was, I am told, part of a holy revival in Oregon. I spent Saturday morning breakfasting with John, the leader there, and the men who work with the different areas of the center. In 1928, A.W.Tozer preached at the Tabernacle in the Grove and baptized many in the Molalla River — and many were thereby drawn to Christ.
A center of prophecy and prophetic practice, it appears that many of those here now, receiving prophetic insight, expect a resurgence of Canby Grove as a revival center. I do too. There is a movement of the Holy Spirit there that is palpable.
John and his wife are parents to a small girl of uncommon kindness. She is six years old and she asked if I would like to see her run. I said “Sure!” She began to run, and ran faster and faster until my eyesight could only see a blur as she circled at high rates of speed and whooshed inside the building. For the experience, this six-year-old appeared like a movie special effect. When she came to a halt and I recovered from my dizziness I told her that I thought that she might be an angel, as humans could not travel that fast. I was not kidding.
My love to you all as you make your way somewhere for Thanksgiving, or as you receive the weary travelers into your own home. May you be blessed and enriched by this season of homecoming. Amen!
Colin Brown is the former pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Boardman.