Conscious Contemplations

Winter memories

Winter memories 

A Photo of DonnaAs I headed to the mailbox this morning, the crisp air of January met me afresh. The snow covering the once-green grass barely crunched below my feet, and I found myself walking on top of it rather than sinking in

My mind wandered back some thirty years. Arlington cemetery. Bloomington, Indiana. Grandma and me.

I took her to put flowers on my grandfather’s grave. Solemnly we exited the car and moved toward the grave on a brisk winter morning. She and I walked atop a frosted-over snow, slowly making our way to the grave. Bare, iced branches of the few trees standing amidst the many marble markers glistened in the midmorning sunlight.

We quietly ambled on. Then Grandma, attempting a smile, looked at me said, “I’ve never walked on top of snow before.”

I gripped her elbow as we approached the grave that had for the several months held the body of my grandpa, her husband of more than sixty years.

Sacredly placing the flowers gently into the urn beside the marble monument, she stepped away, reading the dates carved in the cold stone. Her name etched beside his with only a birth date and a hyphen loomed over both of us, an omen of days to come.

“I guess I’ll be there beside him someday,” she said. Tears trickled down both our cheeks as we stood in silence, staring at the stone that foretold life’s brevity.

Regaining composure, I said, “Well, we won’t think about that now, Grandma.” Empty, useless words to an 81-year-old who had heard death’s knock amongst friends and family one too many times.  

She might have stood there all day had it not been winter. My hand grasping her elbow, I urged her back to the car. “Come on, Grandma, it’s cold,” I said. “Let’s go home.”

Coldness comes and goes over time. Seasons change and life as we’ve known it no longer exists. We can never go back. People enter our lives for a season and then we must walk alone, seeking to understand life’s rhythm.

After lifting the little red flag on the mailbox, I turned back toward the house. The blacktop drive was bare and clean, providing a much safer path…but I preferred to move on top of the snow, step by step, pretending that Grandma was walking beside me once again as my hand gently urged her home.

Stillness in the Storm

Rainbow 

A Photo of DonnaLast night my son Brandon and I stood outside and watched the storm disembark. Tall, slender and easily blown about, he ran out into the field and gazed up to heaven in awe. He threw his arms out, paralleling the ground, and twirled around. “Isn’t it cool?” he yelled against the bellowing winds.

What we experienced at that moment was the awesome hand of God moving about the earth, changing the south winds to north, blue sky to gray, stillness to ravaging storms. Often these storms direct us to God when we otherwise don’t notice He’s there.

As the small, nearly transparent, lighter clouds danced eastward beneath the looming gray billowing vastness, we settled on the porch swing, watching the heavens move above us, feeling the winds engulf us and smelling the fresh summer rain. The all-encompassing gray cloud sat above us as a toadstool in the forest, in a distinct circular pattern, casting a shadow on the gesturing green grass.

A memorable time with my son. 

God must have felt the same way as He read our innermost thoughts of His mighty and breathtaking power. We acknowledged His presence, His authority, His sovereignty. A memorable time with His children. 

“Makes you feel pretty small, huh?” I asked Brandon.

“Definitely.”

Knowing the storm could develop into something far worse than it was, we both lingered in the moment of God’s supremacy. Watching it pass, arrogantly taunting the earth, we felt respite at the inconsequential damage left in the storm’s path.

As it dissipated, allowing clear skies to peak through broken clouds, we sat, my son and I, basking in the presence of a mighty and wonderful God.

“Look!” he exclaimed. “Blue!”

And we find that’s how our God works. Storms come and go. Some loom above us, surround us, teasing us, warning us. Others hit hard, damage us, leaving us wounded and wondering, “What shall I do with this, Lord?”

But however each storm affects us, blue skies always appear, often leaving us wondering if the storm really even ever existed.

God’s promise is not that storms will not come. He doesn’t promise damage-free lives. He doesn’t say He will not allow us to be hurt.

He says, simply, “Be still, and know that I am God.”