Nope. I didn’t even see a deer. Not a single one. And for this I give thanks. My freezer is already filled by my carefully researched hunting raids of woo-hoo sales at Pick ’n Save. I even have a few sticks of Venison sausage in the freezer from hunts in years past. I don’t really need the meat. But the experience of deer camp? That I won’t soon forget.
And for this I give thanks. For walking out to the blind in the pre-dawn darkness, and for the hushed quiet that engulfs me. For my handy headlamp, so I can load my gun and get set up in the blind well before dawn. For watching the darkness slowly roll back, as if inch-by-inch. For the first timid rays of the sun peaking through the maples, oaks, and pines, and the glistening of the forest-bed-frost like a sea of diamonds. Here and there, a rare blue one. For the sun’s rays then breaking through stronger, so the frost begins to melt. And I hear the dew drops from the blind-roof splattering to the ground.
And for this I give thanks. For the sun’s fiery blaze that lights up the forest on every side. For the refreshing, peaceful, comforting quiet. Did I just nod off for a few minutes? What’s that? A rifle-shot! Then another off in the distance. Then more quiet. My only company is the chatterbox red squirrel that mocks me as he munches his acorn on a tree stump some 50 feet away. And there’s the huge, black squirrel that romps down the path, pops up a tree, and peaks around at me. Or was that a daring glare? The cawing of crows finally wakes me from my reverie, and the words of the Psalmist come to mind. “How many are your works, O LORD! In wisdom you made them all. The earth is full of your creatures.” (Psalm 104:24)
And for this I give thanks. For gracious hosts, Lyle and Jean, who welcomed me into their castle-in-the-woods deer camp, filled the fridge with beverages, the table with food, and the rooms of their home with mattresses and bedding. Their hospitality makes our Father smile, for he urges us all, “And do not forget to do good and share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (Hebrews 13:16)
And for this I give thanks. For the decades-long members of this camp—Mike, Tom, Paul, Steve, and Martin who welcomed me with a raised glass and a coveted invitation to the table for Sheepshead. As the evening went on, the camaraderie grew as did the depth of the stories from our school days at Northwestern and Seminary. I couldn’t help but think, “Iron sharpens iron, and a man sharpens the insight of his friend.” (Proverbs 27:17)
And for this I give thanks. Our Lord willing, I will have the opportunity to join my brothers and sisters for Trinity’s Thanksgiving worship later today, November 22, 4 PM. Together we will praise the Lord for the gift of his Son (1 John 4:14), and the bounty of His creation (Psalm 65:9-13). And in a quiet moment of personal prayer, I will add, “Father, I went to deer camp. And for this I give thanks.”
Privileged to serve,
Rev. Glenn Schwanke