It’s an old feel-good movie about an old woman who wants to go back to her old hometown. She takes off on her adventure, only to discover trains no longer go to the village of Bountiful, so she gets on a bus. The rest is…well, it’s the rest of the story, so if you are interested you will just have to check out the movie.
This autumn has been a “trip to bountiful.”
In October a death in the family took us to California to see my brother and his family, then another death called us to Florida to be with Judy’s brother’s family. Along the way, we got to see the Florida Harnish family as well. In the summer we really did make the trip “back home” to Clarion, PA for a reunion with 70 Harnish relatives. And now we’ve spent Thanksgiving with our own family at David’s home in Gettysburg.
It’s been a year of “bountiful.”
Sure enough, this year has also been one of too much war, too much gun violence and too much ugly political rhetoric. Even in our times of giving thanks, we can’t close our eyes to the pain of the war-torn world around us. But perhaps even the darkness helps us see the light. As we get in touch with the needs others, we are in fact more appreciative of what we have.
Every Thanksgiving I go back to the great hymn “Now Thank We All Our God.”
It was written during the utter devastation of the plague and the Thirty Years War. In 1636, after burying hundreds of his parishioners including his own wife, Martin Rinkert could write:
Now thank we all our God, with heart and hand and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done, in whom this world rejoices.
His town was over-run with refugees and in all about 8,000 people in his village perished. Incredibly, in the midst of all the anguish and loss, it still sounds like he is on a trip to bountiful:
O may this bounteous God, through all our lives be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us.
And keep us in his grace and guide us when perplexed,
And free us from all ills in this world and the next.
So now we begin the Advent trip to Bethlehem, the ultimate “trip to bountiful.”
“O may this bounteous God” be with you in the Advent season, in the new year ahead, and wherever the journey takes you.
Looking toward Christmas, if you are looking for a small gift for a reader in your family, I would be happy to sign a copy of my book Thirty Days with E. Stanley Jones and send it to you.