It is easy to believe that a sense of thankfulness comes from good fortune. But I wonder if it doesn’t work more readily the other way, arising out of a sense of need, met or unmet. In these days when the world around us continues with its troubles—both new and those that seem to have followed us from everlasting—it is perhaps possible that gratefulness will arise from within us, recognizing as did James Whitcomb Riley that “love and only love could understand.” May we share love’s touch with another during this Thanksgiving season, even one whose “need of touches we had never known.”
We’ll be back on Tuesday, November 27.
Let us be thankful—not only because
Since last our universal thanks were told
We have grown greater in the world’s applause,
And fortune’s newer smiles surpass the old—
But thankful for all things that come as alms
From out the open hand of Providence:—
The winter clouds and storms—the summer calms—
The sleepless dread—the drowse of indolence.
Let us be thankful—thankful for the prayers
Whose gracious answers were long, long delayed,
That they might fall upon us unawares,
And bless us, as in greater need we prayed.
Let us be thankful for the loyal hand
That love held out in welcome to our own,
When love and only love could understand
The need of touches we had never known.
Let us be thankful for the longing eyes
That gave their secret to us as they wept,
Yet in return found, with a sweet surprise,
Love’s touch upon their lids, and, smiling, slept.
And let us, too, be thankful that the tears
Of sorrow have not all been drained away,
That through them still, for all the coming years,
We may look on the dead face of To-day.
—James Whitcomb Riley
Photo by Freedom II Andres, Creative Commons license via Flickr. Poem is in the public domain.
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Beautiful and inspiring poem. Was following all the way until the last line. Can you unpack this for me?
Laura Brown says
Katie, I think the last stanza, at its simplest, expresses thanks for the ability to look back. To remember. What do you make of the tears in that stanza?
Katie Brewster says
Our regrets and sorrows can teach us much.