No sun—no moon!
No morn—no noon—
No sky—no earthly view—
No distance looking blue—
No road—no street—no "t'other side the way"—
No end to any Row—
No indications where the Crescents go—
No top to any steeple—
No recognitions of familiar people—
No courtesies for showing 'em—
No knowing 'em!
No traveling at all—no locomotion,
No inkling of the way—no notion—
"No go"—by land or ocean—
No mail—no post—
No news from any foreign coast—
No park—no ring—no afternoon gentility—
No company—no nobility—
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member—
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,
Thomas Hood (23 May 1799 – 3 May 1845) English poet
I love the way this poem plays with the “no” in November. By the end you almost want to shout at the poet –not no, but yes! Yes to all of the wonderful things about November – autumn leaves, cheerful fires, cozy evenings, the sharp blue of the sky and the fruits of harvest. But instead the poet, in a humorous way, deals with all that November is not.
We can be like that about so many things – seeing only the negative instead of the positive. Refusing to see how things could be different until someone points it out or we learn, for it is knowledge won only through hard work and wading through difficulties to see hope on the other side, hope that has never left us. The hope of God.
We tend to discount that hope when things are not going well. We may even think that it has disappeared, and God with it. We have a hard time seeing past the telescoped view in front of us, until someone helps us to widen the lens, to see differently. To see that hope, light and grace are right there with us and have always been. Maybe it is a family member or friend or even a stranger. Perhaps it is words of wisdom, a whispered prayer or something from a book. Maybe it is a poem where the repeated “no” reminds us to look for the “yes.”
Whatever it is and wherever the gifts come from – and such moments are gifts-let us grasp them with both hands. Let us hold on tight to hope, light, grace, and God’s love all around us, and for us. In these days, and in all days, we need that reassurance to help us find our way when the negative messages seem to come quick and fast, so we can hold onto the possibilities of what can be and discard all that we are told cannot.
As the Autumn light changes slowly to the softer tones of late fall and winter, let us give thanks for all the blessings in our lives and give thanks to God for all the ways God’s light shows us the way.