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Here in New Jersey, the autumn days are delightful. The brilliant colors of the leaves on the trees glow with radiant light. Every sunny day as I drive through town, I want to just stop the car, jump out, and marvel at the magnificent beauty that surrounds me.

A couple days ago, I went looking for some brilliant color to capture, somewhere where I can park and spend time meandering. I found myself at the Shrine of St. Joseph in Stirling, NJ. The shrine sits atop the brow of a wooded hill with lovely views of the valley below.

Standing in a prominent spot on the grounds, this stately sweet gum tree with its star-shaped leaves wowed me with its grand and fiery beauty.  During the summer, though tall and pronounced, I never really noticed this tree but now with its flaming red and golden leaves, it’s the king of the realm.  The discovery captured not only my eye but my spirit with happy thankful thoughts, momentarily forgetting the cares of the day.

It was a special treat.

I find these words by the Rev. Hugh Macmillan written around 1880,  aptly and beautifully describe autumn:
“A hidden fire burns perpetually upon the hearth of the world…. In autumn this great conflagration becomes especially manifest. Then the flame that is slowly and mysteriously consuming every green thing bursts into vivid radiance. Every blade of grass and every leaf in the woodlands is cast into the great oven of Nature; and the bright colours of their fading are literally the flames of their consuming. The golden harvest-fields are glowing in the heart of the furnace…. By this autumn fire God every year purges the floor of nature. All effete substances that have served their purpose in the old form are burnt up. Everywhere God makes sweet and clean the earth with fire.”

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What are you thankful for?

If you would like to share your version of “Thankful Thursday” (photos or text or both) today or in the future, you can link your post to my post on Thursdays in the comments section. Happy Thursday Everyone!