December 16, 2020

Winter storm warnings have been broadcast for the past 48 hours, predicting from 8” – 12” of snow in our neck of the woods. If we get the accumulation called for, it will be the biggest snowfall I’ve encountered since we moved from Wisconsin to Hawaii in 2001. I intend to thoroughly enjoy it, savoring the images of snow as it gathers on trees and bushes; going outside with Kiko (our dog) for a walk; listening to the silence that is particular to the world when snow has hushed the noise; catching a few snowflakes on my tongue; and then coming inside for a cup of cocoa.

I recall one snow storm, when I was 14 years old, outside of Mechanicsburg, PA. Overnight we’d gotten about a foot of snow, with drifts from the wind. My mother and I decided we could walk the mile to a service station that was open. We could get milk and toilet paper just in case we ran out before the roads were cleared. Off we trudged, walking along roads that hadn’t been plowed yet, taking advantage of what tire tracks we could follow. It was slow going, but we made it to the service station and picked up our supplies. I had the bright idea that we could save a lot of time if we crossed the snow-covered fields that were between us and home rather than follow the roads.

It was a great idea, until we encountered drifts that were up to our waists. But we plowed onward, no turning back for us! Walking through snow drifts, without any idea of the contour of the snow covered ground, made for some cold surprises. It was hard going, and our shortcut ended up taking longer than the more circuitous but safer route. Once home, we sat in front of the fireplace, sipping cocoa, and recalled our adventure. My dad, a very quiet and subdued Scotsman looked from mom to me, shaking his head that a smart girl would have such a bird-brained idea and that his wife would go along with such a fool-hardy adventure.

There is no easy route to get past the situation we are in, the valley of grief is deep, there are no quick fixes for the rough place our nation and world are in, and it will be an uphill climb before we conquer COVID-19. The voice of the prophet Isaiah rings true, “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain….Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people shall see it together.”

We live between now…and…then. This “between time” reminds me of that hike through the snow-covered field, aware of our frailty, our need for a shepherd to gather us, to lift us up, to feed us, to carry us. And maybe have a cup of cocoa waiting for when we get home.

O come, O come, Emmanuel! ~ Anne

                                                   

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