“In fact, it has been remarked by some that Hobbits only real passion is for food. A rather unfair observation, as we have also developed a keen interest in the brewing of ales, and the smoking of pipe-weed. But where our hearts truly lie is in peace and quiet and good-tilled earth. For all Hobbits share a love of things that grow.” –J. R. R. Tolkien
In circles of our faith, there are often rewards given for taking everything to the spiritual perspective – pats on the back, church authority, probably even medals and trophies somewhere. That is a good thing. I would be hopeless in a church that put its stock in the five senses. And yet, sometimes, there is a reticence to enjoy the sensible gifts of God for what they are: expressions of his love to us (Matthew 6:11; James 1:17). So, here is a prayer for the few times, as sojourners in this wilderness age (Gal. 1:4; Heb. 3:13), we happen to find ourselves in a pleasurable moment in which neither lament nor ascension seem fitting.
There are times when earth does feel like home,
when that jazz progression melts us,
when that savory bite enraptures us,
when crisp air and fall leaves tranquilize us,
when sun, breeze, and blueberry pie,
activate our senses just right
when hearth is ablaze,
with beloved to join us.
Steady our hearts and minds long enough to linger there.
For our “Christian” culture would have us rush past such fading things:
“When every home burns, the great city is our hope!”
“When jazz progressions cease, the final trump sounds!”
“When bellies groan with emptiness, we look to your table!”
“When winter death inevitably conquers autumn,
we await the resurrection of springtime!”
“When our sense capacities rot in the soil, we will see him face-to-face!”
Lord have mercy.
Shepherd, help us to graze in your green pastures.
Stop us from scrambling to the not-yet,
lest we, God forbid,
enjoy the earth
you have made for us to enjoy.
Block us from blitzing to the transcendent.
Silence our insistence to charge into the heavenly.
Halt our haste to move from here to there.
Teach us to understand the gospel.
You move from there to here.
You come from heaven to earth.
You condescend, rushing to us
as a mother rushes
to tend to her newborn.
Reanimate this spontaneous, enjoyable, tangible, fleshly “now”
with your approving, delighting, unexpecting arm
around our shoulder.
Laments and qualifications can wait.
Thanksgiving is meant for this moment.
Thank you, Lord, for ministering to us,
for caring for us,
for caring about us,
for this earthly bounty
– whether a sublime feeling,
some sandy bread,
or a copious banquet –
for healing us,
Thank you for this momentary rest in an often restless life.
Let us take these moments for what they are:
your sensible grace to us for today.