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Posted November 25, 2014 by
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Being one hour into our 14- hour road trip to Memphis for Thanksgiving, I am faced with that moment of deciding whether to hunker down and embrace the journey or dread the long day ahead. It is quite understandable to feel challenged in the quest for optimism, with three teenagers crammed between pillows, blankets, duffle bags, gifts, food and “the healthy choice” snack bag … not to mention, a husband navigating snow covered slippery roads with a windshield demanding an endless supply of washing fluid.

Yet, already we have been surprised by some simple joys…an impressive 10- point buck on the top of a car next to us, a bald eagle perched in a tree on the side of the road, and seeing two of our Kenyan friends shoveling six inches of snow off their Northwoods driveway!

My inner mom is also smiling, as I reflect on an assignment our son, Ben, who just submitted an English assignment (literally just submitted via internet and the laptop in our car). Reflecting on a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ben provides further perspective on how we can see beauty rather than drudgery in the everyday, and why we should choose to enjoy what God has put before us.

I decided to share this with you since I really couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s a simple choice really.

Ben Ribbe
English 3rd Hour
11/25/14
Emerson/Thoreau Essay

When walking through nature, it is very easy to overlook the many stunning characteristics that contribute to the Earth. Ralph Waldo Emerson elaborated on this subject with the following quote: “The invariable mark of wisdom is to find the miraculous in the common.” Nature provides many unique and miraculous aspects that we take for granted, among them are the changing of the leaves, the falling of snow, and the twinkling of the stars.

When the leaves change, it is an amazing sight. Throughout the life of a tree the leaves grow, live, and fall many times. This is amazing because it shows that no matter what, the tree will continue it’s life cycle. It perseveres through the cold of the winter and the heat of the summer, all the while revealing its beauty through breathtaking colors.

This beauty can also be observed through the stars in the night. Just think of the number 300 billion. There are 300 billion stars that make up the vast night sky. 300 billion unique balls of light shining, without fail, bringing beauty and proclaiming their artistry in the night sky. Take a moment and look up, it is a sight that no television screen can display. It is a gift from God to every person on the Earth. From peasants to great lords, no one is exempt from the panorama of astonishing grace displayed through the stars.

Once the stars disappear, and the sun begins to rise, the world awakens to a winter wonderland. The white, pure, blanket of snow covers every inch of the ground. Most people will groan and complain about the hardships the snow brings, but remember to look at all levels of the spectrum and focus on the positives. The snow really is one of nature's most remarkable gifts. Overnight it can transform the world into an unfathomable beauty. Consider yourself lucky to live in a place where snow also finds its home.

When the leaves change, the snow falls, and the stars twinkle, one must make it a choice to recognize the astonishing beauty that nature gives us. It is important to take a look around and notice the remarkable gifts that God has given to all beings on Earth. When going out into the world, one should keep Emerson’s quote in mind: “The invariable mark of wisdom is to find the miraculous in the common.”

Best wishes to all of you for a miraculous and wise Thanksgiving!

- from the Ribbe family on the road