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Like a cunning lover, last week’s snowfall wooed autumn’s dismantling within the rigors of winter: Leafy branches sported white overcoats; spindly shrubs stooped in supplication; fence posts peaked with medieval turrets. A solitary cardinal flashed toward a neighbor’s woodshed, then alighted and preened like a celebrity caught within the blitz of paparazzi. From a snow mound poked the handle of a red wagon. Flurries outlined swirls of breezes that fashioned ghostly images upon the asphalt street and tousled the green muffler flapping around the snowman’s neck nearby. Only random cars moved about.

All was still: Its pregnant hush evoked an OH! The first morning of creation must have felt like that.

Such OHs burst with silence, trip breathing, balloon joy, and open onto the companioning Sacred within our depths. Yet a tinge of sadness lingers in their wake, such OHs! so fleeting and evanescent. Would that we could hold onto them. That being said, we can still watch for them and give thanks when experienced.

And this year, do watch for OHs! around Thanksgiving tables, graced with family and friends. Go beyond well-worn traditions and bring something new: a new dish, a new prayer, a new listening.

“Bidden or not bidden, God is present.”

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

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When was the last time a children’s classic seized your imagination, transported you to a world where, despite hardships of every stripe, everything works out? Enter the river world of Mole, Rat, Badger, and Mr. Toad and discover how their carefree wandering and playing swallow them in dark experiences. They emerge all the wiser, their friendship more nuanced as they continue adventuring by the river, arm in arm.

See the mild-mannered, home-loving Mole who risks everything venturing into the world above him; the cultured, relaxed Rat with literary pretensions and a love for picnicking; the aimless, wealthy, conceited Mr. Toad, almost done in by numerous addictions; and the gruff, solitary Badger, a wise and brave and skillful fighter. See also the Chief Weasel, the antagonist who takes over Toad Hall with other weasels, ferrets, and skoats.

Within the world of these characters, we find our own, if we dare to look.

Fortunate for us, the author of this classic quit his position with the Bank of England in 1909 when 49 years old. He returned to his boyhood home in Cockham, Berkshire along the River Thames and began writing down the bedtime stories he had told his son, Alistair. One of these was The Wind in the Willows. The author was Kenneth Grahame.

See the 1980 edition illustrated by Michael Hague.

 

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