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Give thanks for variety

By Kari van Wakeren - Connecting faith to Life

Recently, my daughter and I took a walk while her brother slept. As we walked, we talked about the leaves on the trees. 

I couldn’t help but notice that in one area, each of the trees was different. First there was an oak tree, then a maple, an ash, and a basswood, all in a row.

As I noticed this I was filled with a sense of awe at the awesomeness of God’s creation and the variety present in it. Isn’t it amazing that God didn’t settle for just making one kind of tree, or three kinds of flowers, or two kinds of animals? Instead, God provided us with an awesome array, an abundant assortment.

As I thought of this, I couldn’t help but think of how we don’t always seem to feel as much of a sense of awe – or have as great a sense of appreciation –for the diversity that exists in God’s creation when it comes to the variety of people that God created.  All too often, we let differences get between us and serve as a reason for drawing lines rather than giving thanks.

I can’t say for certain why this is the case, but I’m willing to guess that it has something to do with the fact that the trees and flowers aren’t trying to convince us which one is best or right. They remain pretty quiet when it comes to pointing out our flaws, and they don’t hold grudges. 

But wouldn’t it be something if we could live in harmony with one another the way the oak, maple, ash and basswood trees are able to?

Wouldn’t it be great if we spent more time and energy appreciating and honoring our neighbors (all of them) for the unique creation of God that they are rather than pointing fingers or taking sides or placing blame? 

I say this because I have been taught that there is level ground at the foot of the cross. We are all saints and sinners and are each dependent on God’s mercy.

With this in mind, this fall, as you give thanks to God for the beauty and vastness present in the creation around you, I invite you to give thanks for the variety of people around you too. 

After all, my faith tells me that we are each created in God’s image and that everything God created is good.

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Kari van Wakeren is a pastor at First Lutheran Church in Alexandria. She can be reached at and blogs at