Even people with no religious affiliation whatsoever may often be heard saying things like they "believe in some sort of spiritual power". Similarly, people are quite happy to get on board with Thanksgiving, even if not from a strictly Christian perspective.
It is not surprising! There are many passages, in the Bible as well as in other holy books, which resonate with truth, or something even stronger than truth. Often it's something innately obvious, that one feels in their bones, in their heart.
The 23rd Psalm is one of those pieces. In this case, virtually every line has worked its way into popular western tradition, to the extent that many people probably know a phrase or two but maybe not its origin.
One of those snippets was used by the 19th-Century poet Bliss Carman as an epigraph for his poem, "By Still Waters".
"He leadeth me beside the still waters; He restoreth my soul."
Of all the words that have ever been strung together into sentences, I find these are some of the more intensely moving. And even though there are concepts, such as "souls", to name one, in the line that cannot be concretely defined, the core idea presented is comfortably familiar and somehow totally plausible.
This is also the poem where I found the name for one of my semi abstract landscape paintings, "On the Hills of Dream".
You may have noticed I love to give my paintings some personality or meaning by suggesting an interpretation or telling about my inspiration. But these are just suggestions.
Sometimes I find that a verse or idea works uncannily well with one of my paintings and this is one of those times. The verse goes,
"For art and learning and friendship,
Where beneficent truth is supreme,—
Those everlasting cities
Built on the hills of dream;..."
This comes up near the end. What's happening in the poem is the narrator is in the best place ever, an idyllic garden of goldenrod in an old New England pasture described at length, and continues on to list verses of things to be thankful for.
On that note, I thought it would be a great time now, with Canadian Thanksgiving just past a couple of days ago, and U.S. Thanksgiving just around the corner, to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!