Building My Own Thanksgiving Altar

Last night while I worked on dinner, my daughter played a song on the piano that I hadn’t heard in a long time. Steve Bell’s Here by the Water (lyrics below). The lyrics flooded back to me and I remembered again why this song is one of my favourites.

Not long ago I read an article about how good feelings are fleeting, but for some reason we hold onto bad feelings. You know how it is—you’re elated over something good that happened and the high only lasts a short time. It’s human nature that we quickly forget the good and hold onto the bad.

To me, this song speaks to thanksgiving, to remembering all the good in our lives. When the Israelites passed through the Jordan River, God told them to pull twelve stones from the riverbed. They built an altar. When I hear the word altar, I always think of a place of worship or sacrifice. While that may be true, I think it’s more about a visual reminder of what God did for them.

We need these stones, these memorials in our lives. Something we can look at, touch, and say remember when… when we came through suffering, when we saw a miracle, when our prayers were answered.

I have so much to be thankful for—a family, friends, a home, good health, warmth when it’s cold outside, good schools for my kids, the written word, healthy food, and the list goes on.

Each of these blessings are a rough stone and from those stones I can build an altar of praise.

Here by the Water

(Music and Lyric by Jim Croegaert © 1986 Rough Stones Music)

Soft field of clover

Moon shining over the valley

Joining the song of the river

To the great giver of the great good

As it enfolds me Somehow it holds me together

I realize I’ve been singing

Still it comes ringing

Clearer than clear

Chorus:  And here by the water I’ll build an altar to praise Him

Out of the stones that I’ve found here

I’ll set them down here Rough as they are

Knowing You can make them holy

Knowing You can make them holy

Knowing You can make them holy

I think how a yearning

Has kept on returning to move me

Down roads I’d never have chosen

Half the time frozen Too numb to feel

I know it was stormy

I hope it was for me learning

Blood on the road wasn’t mine though

Someone that I know

Has walked here before


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