Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Shelter from Storms that Won't Subside

Same deck. Now and last summer.

School is closed. As far as I can see, everything is coated in a sheet of ice. It looks magical. Stepping outside to grab the paper this morning, it felt cold. Looking outside, I know it's only a matter of weeks til we begin mowing grass. We'll plant pansies, and drag out the deck furniture. A few months from now, I'll set out sun tea, possibly grab a book and enjoy spending some time there. I'll hear the neighborhood kids running in the creek, or playing yard games. They still do that sometimes. I love it when they do. Not all kids are tucked inside playing video games, as the media would have us believe. Little boys are still little boys. I'll smell burgers on the grill, as Dads up and down the street take their shift at cooking supper. It will happen - a few weeks, a few months from now.

This year's fawns will have been born, and we'll get our first glimpse of them. Birds will begin building their nests in the martin house, or in spite of our efforts to discourage them, under the eaves of the awning. I'll catch glimpses of them, flying with their prizes in their beaks - scraps of yarn, or a fluff of pet hair. It won't be long til I see those scrawny hatchlings at the feeder, their beaks in a state of constant open, waiting for mom to shove something inside. Watching them in spring - I'm always glad I'm not a bird. Their job never ends. And our babies were much prettier when they were brand new. At least I thought so.

My peonies, and other such perennials will begin to poke through the wet, mucky ground. The lilac bush will start to leaf out, and I'll look forward to it's fragrant blossoms. We only planted it a few years ago, and one branch, brought inside, makes the whole house smell like early summer.

Looking out, and then looking ahead, it makes me stop and think, how often life feels like this wintry blast, that just won't stop. Whether it's bills that keep arriving in the mailbox, or lab results, or relationships that keep hitting those rough spots. As I look out over the yard, I see the rhododendron bushes. They are a great gauge of the temperature outside. The colder it gets, the tighter their leaves curl in. My neighbor has a beautiful one, across from the window of my office. In May it'll be covered with big pink blossoms. Looking at it right now, shriveled up and covered in a blanket of snow, it's hard to believe it won't be long before it's struttin' it's stuff.

Sometimes life feels like a long stretch of hard. Of having to bundle up, trying to deal with the wintry blast coming at me. I've lived long enough to know the seasons will turn, the storm will subside, and life will blossom again. Still, we all need a little light at the end of the tunnel, now and then. I can't say how much, I don't think it breaks down into percentages. I do know part of my purpose for being here on earth, is offering what comfort, support I can, when others are being blasted. And setting aside pride, accepting the offer of shelter, sustenance, when it's me in the middle of the storm. The fact that I'd rather give, than receive, tells me if I get bored I can work on the issue of pride.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have troubles. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

For today, I'll stay inside. I may print out the photo on the right, and put it on the fridge. Everyone needs a little light, at the end of the tunnel. He HAS overcome, He IS the one who offers peace. My job is to figure out what part I play in that for someone else. When I see someone who's huddled up, like my neighbor's rhododendron, because life feels like a storm that won't subside. There's an older woman who lives up our street. Her husband is in a nursing home, and she visits him daily. I only know this because I took her mail that ended up in our box. I haven't been back. In spite of seeing the homemade wheelchair ramp, sitting outside the front door. How many times have I just driven by, not stopped to offer help? Can I pick up groceries, shovel a walk, drop off a pot of soup? Maybe just offer a listening ear. Sometimes loneliness is the biggest giant we face.

Who needs a call, a card, a casserole? Who needs a little light at the end of their tunnel? Certainly enough food for thought to keep me busy today.

Update: I stopped by my neighbor's home today, when I went out to run an errand. No one answered, but her snow shovel was propped up by the door. Out there, by myself, shoveling her sidewalk, deep within me, I KNEW it was worship. Without singing a note. I swear I could hear "Holy is the Lord" swirling around in my head, at the privilege of shoveling snow for her. I hope whenever she comes home, and sees the tracks, she will know someone stopped, because they cared.


  posted at 8:15 AM

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    Girl Raised in the South

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