A Cord of Wood!

It’s that time of year once again. As the days turn a little colder and as leaves fall from the trees the sound emerges in the neighborhood of wood being chopped and stacked. Wood burning fires inside and out, are being prepared to offer welcome and warmth as the nights draw in! Many years ago when I served a congregation in the highlands of Scotland I was kindly given from the local “laird” a cord of wood. The first time it arrived, unannounced, I had no idea what a cord of wood was, other than it was piled high outside one of the sheds of the house. After a few hours of moving and stacking I knew that “a cord of wood” was hard work! Since then I have come to know that the actual measurement of a cord is 8 feet by 4 feet by 4 feet! I don’t believe that what was kindly donated to me each of those years in the highlands was ever intentionally measured! We enjoyed the warmth and welcome it offered in the room I used as my study!

This pleasant memory of events some 30 + years ago were stirred when I read Mary Oliver’s poem The Winter Wood Arrives. Please, do pause and enjoy her words and allow them to stir memories and thoughts and gather those thoughts into a bundle and gently care and enjoy them once again.

The Winter Wood Arrives
Mary Oliver

I think
I could have
built a little house
to live in

with the single cord—
half seasoned, half not—
trucked into the
driveway and

tumbled down. But, instead,
friends came
and together we stacked it
for the long, cold days

that are—
maybe the only sure thing in the world—
coming soon.
How to keep warm

is always a problem,
isn’t it?
Of course, there’s love.
And there’s prayer.

I don’t belittle them,
and they have warmed me,
but differently,
from the heart outwards.

Imagine
what swirls of frost will cling
to the windows, what white lawns
I will look out on

as I rise from morning prayers,
as I remember love, that leaves yet never leaves,
as I go out into the yard
and bring the wood in

with struggling steps,
with struggling thoughts,
bundle by bundle,
to be burned.

Prayer:
Lord God I offer to you
this my morning prayer.
For the rest and sleep of the night,
for the warmth and comfort of home and bed,
I am grateful.
As morning sun ushers in the new day,
as trees silently shed their leaves,
one by one,
twisting and twirling as they fall gently
upon the earth
so I begin to count my many blessings.
The words ‘Thank You’ are too short
for such a huge task yet they are all I have.
I offer to you, good Lord,
a cord of thanksgiving, not intentionally
measured yet given from the heart.
Hear my prayer and remind me often
of all the cords of love that have been woven
within and around this my
“one precious life”. Amen.

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