Monday, November 16, 2015

The Spirit of Thanksgiving

Come ye thankful people, come. Raise the song of harvest home. 
All is safely gathered in. Ere the winter storms begin. 
God, our Maker, doth provide.
-Henry Alford, 1844

God, our Maker, doth provide.

My heart has been humming this old tune for days. I want to tell you why. I want to tell you a story from my weekend.

On Saturday, a few folks and I stood under a huge oak tree in a downtown city park with 1,412 pairs of socks. It was the culmination of weeks of collecting socks for our city's homeless. We passed them out, pair by pair, to a steady stream of weary-looking faces. I shook hands and wrapped my arms around and looked in the eyes of as many as I could. It, like all the other times, broke my heart. 

I took a step back, mid-way through, to breathe and blink away a few tears. The last thing I wanted was for these precious people to see sadness- or worse, pity- on my face. I took a step back and looked across the park and noticed a tall, older man staring back at us. He stood, still as a statue, watching our little spectacle. I didn't know whether to be unnerved or wave. I turned back to my socks and my small crowd and quickly forgot about him.

I forgot all about him, actually, until I heard a strong, clear voice a little while later asking who was in charge. It was the tall man. He was directed toward me and suddenly, he was by my side. I'm Frank, he said softly. I'm with my grandkids in the park. We've seen what you are doing.

His voice didn't match the body it was coming out of. It was warm and melodic. He was a white-haired tower with angles and elbows. I looked up at him and nodded, and saw that he had the kindest face I've seen in a long time.

Here, he said, and pressed some wadded up bills into my hand. 

Thanks so much, but you don't have to, I replied.

We've seen what you're doing, he repeated. 

I thanked him, clumsily, and added something about the need and the people and... something. But he was already turning away, heading back up the hill to the spot where I saw him earlier. 

Again, I forgot all about Tall Man until I found the money in my pocket several hours later. I pulled it out and smoothed both crumpled bills... a large bill, and a one dollar bill. It was a strange amount to give, and I said so others.They nodded. It was strange.

Only it didn't seem so strange when I added up, later, exactly what the sock drive had cost me, personally, that day. And when I circled the total and looked at those crumpled bills, I smiled. And then I began laughing. And then I began crying... was EXACTLY... rounded up to the nearest whole dollar... exactly the same amount I'd spent. 

God, our Maker, doth provide.

Money's been tight this year, what with the layoff and all. It's been incredible watching God provide... watch Him come through in a clutch... watch my account get down to $2.09 with the electric bill due and then, suddenly, a check in the mail. (Thank you, Nina.) It's been humbling and yet amazing to watch sales in my Etsy shop come through at just the right time. I think I've knit with more gratitude and hope this year than ever before.

This Thanksgiving season, there's a collage of the most beautiful pictures coming together in my brain: those tired, homeless faces. The Tall Man and his crumpled, exact gift. The piles of socks under that tree. The check in the mail. The piles of yarn that are getting knit into... provision. Beautiful provision. It isn't even Thanksgiving, and yet... it is. At my house, and in my heart, it already is.

I needed to announce my latest Thanksgiving cloths and let y'all know that there's a limited number in the shop today, but somehow I couldn't without telling you the story behind it all. The story about my weekend and my providing God. About the socks and the Tall Man. And I want you to know: I'm wishing the same for you today, and praying that the spirit of thanksgiving will find you and bless you this season, too. Whatever it looks like and whatever form it takes, I'm praying the same for you.

Thanks for being here.  -Brin


Sue Neitzel said...

I hope you will include this story in your book, it gave me goose bumps! My Monday moment, thank you!!!

Susan said...

me too !!! goosebumps ! so excited for the book and the colours of these latest dishcloths - Wow !The colours, the names, the photography SO good. Love from Nova Scotia

Sherry said...

our precious Provider.
great is His faithfulness.
{{{{{ gentle hug }}}}}

Erica said...

This story made me bawl! With all the wickedness and heartache going on in our world your words and God's faithfulness through the actions of the Tall Man shine through the darkness with so much hope and redemption. Praise God for your obedience and His awesome-ness!

Gail said...

I have so many stories of how God has provided,one particularly that people would think I made up, but I will always believe it was God.

Adrienne said...

Dear Brin - This story touched my heart so deep and my tears were right there! Thank God for men like the tall gentleman whose grandchildren will never forget what was seen in the park that day. An ordinary day for them turned into a day with lessons to be learned that only God could arrange. And exactly what you had spent from your generous heart. I grew up that way. A pastor father in small churches, then going out in an independent ministry with no definite salary. But God ALWAYS provided. I learned faith - and believing for answered prayer - at a very young age. That's the only way to live life. I married a young preacher and an older, wiser preacher told us when we were in a tiny church in a teeny, tiny town on the back side of nowhere, 'when the days come that you are in a bigger place and a salary seems to be the provision for your needs, don't EVERY forget these days and that GOD is your provider'. That has seen us through many days that looked impossible. How I thank God that He is using you to reach out and touch the hearts of people in ways only you can do!

Sue Neitzel said...

I got my house helper in the mail yesterday and I'm in's perfect for Thanksgiving and fall cleaning! Thank you so much Brin!!