Thanksgiving in Plymouth and Jutland

Pilgrim:  How.
Squanto:  How? Isn't it obvious? As the fish decays, it releases nitrogen. In the soil, nitrogen-fixing bacteria convert this nitrogen into nitrates, a form that corn plants can metabolize. These nitrates are largely responsible for healthy leaf and stem growth. 

Holiday joy and peace, Camper.

You wouldn’t know it from his cheery disposition, but Your Uncle Jerry comes from a long line of stern, sober, devout, and stoic people. His ancestors on one side were dark Lutherans, and on the other side were merciless unhappy Puritans. As a child, Young Uncle Jerry learned that truth and righteousness were unacquainted with the joys of this world, and that purity of spirit is at odds with bodily pleasure. This kind of theology, Camper, is why good people go wrong.

Viewing the movie Babette’s Feast, which he does as a personal discipline every year during the winter holidays, Your Uncle Jerry feels as if he’s joining his ancestors for dinner. And like any black sheep returning home, he feels comfortable yet alienated. He even gets a little angry as he watches his ancestors not enjoying, not giving thanks for the exquisite meal that Babette has prepared just for them. He suffers through their long ungrateful silences, their refusal to acknowledge the bliss and blessing there on the table. Uncle Jerry can’t wait for his favorite movie to be over. He clamps his teeth over his own knuckles until the old general finally speaks.

The general, a secular, world-weary man trapped like Uncle Jerry at a winter meal in Jutland with people frozen in their own theological misery, finds himself amazed at what Babette has created. He is tasting with his entire body, rolling his eyes, puffing out his cheeks, examining each forkful and each glass of wine as if he cannot believe that anything so obviously a gift from heaven could exist in the same world with such dour, sour human beings. The general has dined in the most opulent restaurants in Europe, but only once has he tasted such a palpable mercy as Babette has laid before them tonight. That was many years and many wars ago, in Paris, and little does he know that Babette was the chef at that meal, too. At last, almost woozy with joy, the old general rises to offer a toast.

Mercy and truth are met together. Righteousness and bliss shall kiss each other. We in our weakness and short-sightedness believe that we must make choices in this life. We tremble at the risks of choosing—what to take, what to leave behind?

But no. What we choose is of no importance. Once in a great while, there comes a moment to open our eyes, and we realize that mercy is infinite. Mercy imposes no conditions. We need only await it with confidence and receive it with gratitude. And lo, everything we have chosen has been granted to us. And everything we have not chosen—this has also been granted.

For mercy and truth are met together. Righteousness and bliss shall kiss each other.

You don't hear this stuff in Sunday School, Camper. Try to remember it. Peace and joy.