Transforming

So the prediction was certain there would be snow, a lot of snow. How many times the ubiquitous “they” predict, get our hopes up, bread and milk disappear from the grocery store shelves. We have an overabundance of bread and milk.

And no snow.

Years ago in one of my former lives as a travel agent I’d won a trip to Jamaica and my brother, living in Washington, DC at the time, was to accompany me. Something woke me a couple of days before departure. I looked out my patio door and saw white. Snow still falling blanketed everything. A lot of snow. I went to my son’s room and woke him to see. It was very early and we got up and watched a movie while the snow still fell. Ultimately there was about a foot of snow which was truly an anomaly for Charlotte, NC.

Though this snowfall on coastal NC was not like that one, 4 inches of snow with below freezing temperatures settles winter in pretty deep here. They’d salted the roads but we don’t have any snow plows so no real way to deal with ice or snow. We basically wait it out.

It is beautiful. It silences noise. Everything normal is changed. Browns and greys of dormant lawns and plants are covered in shining white. Sunshine gleams and shimmers and makes sparkling glints of diamonds.

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Rescue dogs Lily and Lulu making first marks

Maybe it is just weather in a different form. But snow gives a chance to see ordinary as extraordinary. It rests over and upon all it touches challenging us to see differently, to think differently. It offers a rest from the usual, opportunity to wonder and delight in new perspectives.

Picture0106180700_1.jpg A sago palm looking like not a sago palm

Though the temperatures will stay well below freezing through this weekend ensuring that, except for what the warming sun melts away the snow will remain. In a few days temperatures will rise and begin to melt all the ice and snow. The nourishment of moisture will seep into the sleeping earth assuring its life.

Jesus enters our hearts as one invited. He completes and embraces from inside. As we tentatively open our hearts to Him, His rich sustenance fills and awakens us. Our lives becomes stronger, kinder, more whole as we reach for more of Him and He through prayer and His Holy Spirit empowers us with more humility, grace, peace.

We ask Him for wisdom, He helps us discern in every aspect of our lives. In speaking and holding our tongues. In thoughts, once critical, judging, fearful become grace, kindness, hope. This is why He died for us. To save us from our sins, from ourselves.

We move forward, stronger, braver. We search and wait for understanding, compassion, truth. As His love shines on us like the sun our anger, hatred, fear, confusion melt and He gives us clarity in truth, courage, grace, love, peace.

There is a never-diminishing source of His grace to which we may return time and again, over and over, receiving his protection and mercy, no matter what. He has promised He will never leave us and He never does.

Thanks be to God.

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“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”   –Matthew 7:9-12

 

Shoulders

This is an interesting word. We have shoulders at the tops of our arms. They are susceptible to strange injuries, like rotator cuff tears or bursitis, arthritis, dislocation. then there are shoulders on roads, a place where drivers can pull off the road for whatever reason, relatively certain nobody will come along and hit them.There are shoulder pads sewn into some women’s and men’s clothing, I don’t know, to make them look more imposing, more angular I suppose.

And shoulder seasons.

That indiscriminate time when it isn’t really winter/spring/summer/fall, or it’s far enough along in that season where you can sense the beginning of the next one to follow but you aren’t really in it yet.

That seems to be where winter is right now. There are no leaves on the trees but (where I am anyway) we are far enough out of the dark, grey sky months to see light coming. The daffodil bulbs have pushed their leaves up and some of them are blooming. Trees are budding and blueberry bushes have a reddish tint to the tips of their branches where they are waking up and will have flower buds soon. Forsythia, that shrub that my mom’s housekeeper broke off branches whenever she threatened my brother or me when we were little that she was gon’ switch us, and she did not mean have us trade places. Well the forsythia is usually the first to bloom, bright yellow flowers on a bare stem. After the flowers are spent the leaves grow. This has not yet decided to awaken.

The wintergreen plants in the woods that had tiny delicate white flowers last fall are now covered in bright red berries but for the most part the woodland floor seems to still be dormant. We had a couple of weeks here recently where everybody was sure winter was over, balmy temperatures, bright sunshine only to be plunged back into sub-freezing this weekend. Some people call it a false spring where sleeping plants and trees are convinced it’s time to wake up and start pushing out their little leaf buds.

From what the Farmer’s Almanac tells me we’ll be warm/cold here for a few more weeks, with one weekend the middle of this month getting real cold again, snow about 100 miles west of us, but that’s about the end of it. I hope anyway. And the beginning of the pull into springtime. No more shoulder season. Full on spring.

But then spring around here can be pretty short, no “shoulder”, no warning that hinge-melting temperatures are just days away and will last for weeks.

I know the groundhog saw his shadow (hope nobody dropped him this year) but those 6 more weeks of winter only seem to apply to the places north of here that have winter in earnest. I mean more than 3 or 4 inches of snow through the winter where it doesn’t melt and finally goes away sometime in March. April maybe.

Though I love snow, like seeing its beautiful transformation of the world with  white softness nobody down here can drive it it much less rain either so I’m just as happy if we don’t have any. Or if we do have any people have the good sense to stay home.

At least if I’m out on the roads. But then I learned to drive in New Jersey.

Not sure which is worse.

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Leaden

I think our little area on coastal NC just had the entirety of blahness for January and February all rolled up in one day. Today.

For almost a whole week the eastern side of the US has braced for a bad winter storm. Even told us to expect some snow. We were very excited. Even people who’ve lived here all their lives speak of how rare snow is in these parts. Instead we got plenty of rain.

Just as the temperature hit that magic number that turns rain to snow, it stopped.

There is a dusting, I can barely see rescue dogs Lily and Lulu’s pawprints in it. But just cold. We walked to the mailbox and when we came back in the house I wondered if my thumbs would thaw out. The wind chill makes it colder (about 5), so there is no point in even going outside!

But the waiting for something that never happened combined with the lead-gray skies, the cold air, this day was one of the longest winter days I can remember. I went through some dresser drawers, boxes in my closet to clean them out and pass time. Only one short hour. Finally now the daylight is waning. The skies will clear overnight so not even a chance of waking to a surprise blanket of sparkling, frozen white in the morning.

All over the state here friends are boasting, “We got 5 inches, it’s still falling!” Pictures on facebook, dogs playing, peaceful scenes of old, gray barns against a backdrop of pure white. It’s beautiful!

Just not here.

Sometimes I wonder if disappointment increases the lack of whatever it was you had hoped for, that thing so dreamily anticipated that never happened. I suppose it does. Me? Just makes me sleepy. So around 2:30 this afternoon when I could see the dusting was all I’d get today I fell asleep into the soundest, most delicious nap I can remember. Mostly naps make me just cranky. Or hungry. Or convinced I’d missed something important, a feeling that takes hours to shake.

Nope. This nap was apparently just what I needed. Not that I have lost a lot of sleep lately, or stayed awake agonizing over things, or just been a night owl. It was a 30-minute restoration where Lulu curled up by me on the sofa, Lily slept on the rug next to us. I even dreamed. Weird dream, but resolved, I think.

Hope your day, snowy or not, was a lovely Saturday.

Waiting for the snow

Not very often but enough to make it magical there is a prediction for snow here. It’s never very much, only a few inches, but it has that transformative ability to change the landscape just briefly into something extraordinary.

The prediction has been talked about over the past several days, so I went for a walk hoping to distract myself. I remember when I was little and though I was the only real daydreamer in my classes there were certain days during winter when every child’s eyes were trained outside those classroom windows almost willing the snow to fall. Whether there had been a prediction or not did not matter. We could feel it, smell it, even the air looked different. Then later, after our exasperated teacher had called us to task we would glance back out those windows to see snow falling so hard you couldn’t see past it.

So as I walked I looked hard against tree lines and sides of hills, even creating an illusory appearance of snowflakes. The frozen air grated against my cheeks, rubbing them a rosy red. I looked up at the slate-grey where even the sun appeared an imposter of itself through the ice-crystalled clouds.

It’s always a surprise here, to see snow.