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The Big Chill
November 28, 2006
We are farmbound in our third day of an arctic blast here in northwest Washington state, with 60 mph gusts lifting and drifting most of the 12+ inches of snow from last weekend into four and five foot piles on the road. There is great relief in having power, heat and running water but even that is uncertain with the wind worsening by the hour. Schools and workplaces are closed, roads are blocked, the ditches are full of tipped vehicles, store shelves are empty because of no deliveries and nothing is as it should be. How much longer can this possibly last?
On days like this, we keep all our critters indoors for their warmth and safety in -21 degree wind chill. The Haflingers are enjoying full time feasting on hay, oblivious to the huge human task of keeping them fed, their water ice-free and their stalls comfortable despite mounds of frozen manure piling up with no place to move it through the drifts outside the barn. Our whole family works together to get the chores accomplished. Without our children's help, it would be an all day ordeal. Dan and I realize that all too soon, our children won't be home to help with these tasks and our muscles aren't getting any younger. It is a humbling thought that in future years we won't be able to weather through this kind of weather. I am awed by the strength and courage of farmers in their 70's and 80's who manage to survive storms like this by sheer determination and hardy stubbornness.
The immense effort of fighting the elements takes every ounce of energy and faith to keep up the struggle. We wonder when respite will come, when the wind ceases to blow and things will be still and peaceful again. Not even the Weather Channel can tell us with certainty.
Indeed there are times in our lives when we are chilled to the bone by events beyond our control that take our breath away, leave us gasping, and trying to stay on our feet after the blow. Usually these 'life' storms come so suddenly, we are caught unprepared and vulnerable. I know two women who are trying to stand against the worst possible 'life' storm--metastatic cancers striking them in their 40's when they least expected it. Both Jenny and Tina have young children who need their mothers for many more years, yet right now these two people of great faith are fighting for their lives. They do not know when the respite will come and their minds and bodies will be healed. Not even their doctors can tell them with certainty. It is in the hands of God whose mercy and comfort they know and trust.
No storm can last forever. Some storms are forgotten as soon as the sun shines and the seasons change. Others change us forever, remaining the storm all others will be compared to. In the midst of such an ordeal, we thrive due to the compassion of family, neighbors and friends who reach out to hold us in our stormy lives, offering us the warmth of their love and care to ward off the big chill. They are the arms and hands and feet of God on this earth, giving us a glimpse of His coming peace. It is His certainty we yearn for, and then our respite in Him will come. The wind will cease to blow and all will be still again.