Monday, February 25, 2013

Snowed In

The blizzard has arrived in full force.  Again.  Snow is pouring out of the sky and piling up on top of a foot of snow left from the 18-inch snow of a few days ago.  It hasn't snowed like this here since 1962.  I was a sophomore in high school.  We had an honors math class that had to be scheduled at 7:30 am, before school, so participants had to provide their own transportation.  Karen Hartley's mom, Doug Eisenhower's mom and mine had a car pool.  It was my mom's turn to drive.  When we got up, it seemed so DARK, and we felt SO TIRED.  But of course we got dressed, had breakfast, and got into the car to pick up the others and head for school.  It never would have occurred to any of us not to go.  Cars then were huge gas-guzzling boats with tailfins, V-8 engines, power steering and brakes, and an engine you could kick into overdrive at 90 mph if you needed an extra boost of power.  But they didn't handle very well in snow.  On the other hand, we all knew how to drive, including how to handle skidding.  So we slipped and slid to Karen's house.  When we got there, the house was dark.  They came to the door in bathrobes, and that was when we found out we were an hour early.  Somehow Mom had misread the clock, and everyone else had followed.  So we went back home, Mom adroitly avoiding the ditches, and all had a cup of hot chocolate.  An hour later we got back into the car and started again.  The snow was deeper this time, and the drive was a little dicier, but we got to Doug's, then to Karen's, where this time, we found out that the school had just announced closure.  So we took everybody home again, built a fire in the fireplace, and enjoyed an unexpected holiday.

Photo by Tina Gooden 2013  Red Cedar
Being snowed in makes you nostalgic.  When we were snowed in in 1962, Mom told us about the snow when she was a child, in the 1920's.  They lived on a farm south of Kingman and went to the Harmony School, a one-room school about a half mile east of their farm on the northeast corner, near a creek and a wooded area.  If it was snowing so hard, or if the snow was so deep they couldn't walk, they were allowed to ride Old Colonel.  When they got there, they slapped him on the rump and sent him home.  Then after school their dad would ride to the school to pick them up.

When the creek froze, they would go out during recesses and ice skate on it.  One or two of the "rich kids" had real ice skates, but most of them just skated in their shoes, and had a wonderful time.  Another favorite snow game was "fox and goose."  You go out on untracked snow and make a big circle.  Then you make cross-paths, like spokes in a wheel, with a big "axle" in the middle.  One person is the fox, and the rest are the geese, so it is a game of tag, except that you have to stay on the path.  The girls all wore headscarves that tied under the chin, and the boys had hats with earflaps.  The school was heated by a wood-burning stove, so the older boys got to help the teacher bring in the firewood and keep the stove fueled.  Mom said she went to school with some of the Nunnemakers and some of the Flickners.
Photo by Tina Gooden 2013  Sun Break with Cattle

Their dad always took good care of his livestock.  They stayed healthy and strong all winter long, no matter how cold it was.  He rode or took the wagon out to check on them, no matter what the weather, to keep them fed and watered, and to bring in any young ones (and their mothers) who needed more protection.  He was scornful of anyone who had any of their cattle "down" in the winter.  Funny thing about people.  The man who was called by some, "the meanest man in five counties," was always good to the animals.  The dogs loved him, and even the mules did what he told them to do.  When he went out to hunt a cottontail for dinner, he would carry only one bullet for his shotgun.  He said that if you couldn't kill a rabbit with one clean shot, then,  "by God, the rabbit deserved to live."

Photo by Tina Gooden 2013  Afternoon Break in the Storm
For me, today, the best thing about being snowed in is that God has given me an unexpected gift of time.  I have slept, have caught up on psych reports, am starting the paper for my Christian Ethics class today, and all the while, have been catching up with my family and friends on facebook, chat, email, and telephone.  So wonderful to be able to talk with them.  I miss them all so much.  What a sad commentary on our lives today that we don't have time for our own family and friends...  I suspect that Satan is at work here, keeping us distracted and separated from one another.  Pray to God that we may learn to rest in Him, where we surely will find one another.

I just LOVE Tina's photography.  Her work is for sale at very reasonable prices.  Take a look at her photos displayed on her facebook.  Search for Tina Gooden.  I am sure you will find something you would very much like to have.

And as always, I hope you will comment.  Tell us your own snow story.  Click on (number of) comments just below this.  If you don't know who to say you are, just say "anonymous," and if you would, please tell us your first name and say where you're from.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Road to Emmaus

Yesterday, Ash Wednesday, marked the beginning of this 2013 Lenten season.  As usual, I wrote and revised, fussed and fretted over my Lenten Rule, not making up my mind what to do until the last thing the night before.  Finally, with lots of help from my spiritual director, I decided to focus on learning to take better care of myself.  I am working such long hours at my day job, and studying nights and weekends for seminary, that by the time I get home I am too tired to do anything but eat and waste time.  So the rule begins with exercise, eating healthfully, getting enough sleep, and no computer games.  Of course it also includes the basics:  increased prayer, fasting, and quiet time.

This Lent will be a new experience for me because I have just discovered something wonderful that I suppose everyone else already knows.  Happens to me all the time -- I'm not so special as I might like to think!  Here's what happened:  Ever since I was a child, I have had the fantasy or the wish that there was someone watching over me or going with me who could truly understand what I was thinking and how I felt.  I know, this sounds obvious to you, but I had no idea. I grew up in a family of people who were unable to talk or listen to one another.  When I was in junior high, my girlfriends and I used to stay overnight at one another's houses, and since it was always a Saturday night, not a school night, we were allowed to stay up late and watch "Nightmare Theatre."  In those days TV went off the air at midnight during the week.  They used to play the national anthem and show a picture of the flag waving before the station went onto its test pattern until six in the morning.  But Saturday nights at midnight they showed old horror movies, like "The Invisible Man," "Frankenstein," or the one about the crazy magician who murdered people by burning them to ashes in a furnace.  So at slumber parties we ate popcorn and homemade fudge and drank Cokes and watched horror films.  One in particular had mad scientists in the basement of an old stone mansion doing brain dissections.  They had just discovered how language works, and were on the verge of being able to decode verbal information from the brain tissue (or something like that!).  Anyway, one of the mad scientists had a terminal disease, so they had an agreement that just before he died he was going to say the alphabet, so they could be sure they had the code right.  After he died, they dissected his brain, and sure enough, they were able to follow the alphabet for a few letters, until his thinking pattern changed, and they couldn't follow the alphabet any more.  Well, finally they broke the code and figured out that he was saying the Lord's Prayer, and the movie ended with the mad scientists agreeing that in all finality, communication with God is the only thing that matters.  We girls thought that ending was most satisfactory -- very spiritual and uplifting.

Being impressionable, imaginative, and sentimental girls, we thought it would be a great thing if someone really could read our minds and truly understand what we thought and how we felt, and would take us seriously.  Our seventh-grade science teacher was presenting a unit on how the brain works, so we thought maybe he could do that.  For awhile we all had a terrible crush on him, but sadly, he turned out to be disappointingly lacking in that kind of insight.

After a series of ultimately successful psychotherapies, I learned to talk and listen, but still harbored the wish that maybe someone could understand me and would think I was interesting and good.  I often sensed that someone was there.  Being an adult and a psychologist, however, I understood that was just a fantasy, a defense against mankind's ultimate existential loneliness.
Lelio Orsi (1511 - 1587)  Camino de Emaus

A couple of weeks ago I was receiving Holy Communion and thinking about Jesus being before me and behind me and to my right and left, above and beneath me, with me and within me, and in my heart.  I told him I loved him.  It is a wonderful thing to tell him that and to know that he knows it.  "Lord, Thou knowest."  He really does know.  Suddenly I had an experience like kind of a double exposure.  He was with me, but we were taking Communion together, tasting and taking in the body and blood of Christ.  It was the most companionable and joyful of experiences.  I told him, "Mmmm... you are delicious," and he said he knew it.  We both thought that was awfully funny and fun.  He was laughing and the wine was splashing and bubbling through me like the water of everlasting life.  That was when I realized that he is the One who has been walking with me all the time!  All my life!  I can't believe I didn't know.  What!!  All the time?  So!  That's who has been there, all the time!  Just like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, I didn't recognize who I was with until we ate together and my eyes were opened.

Now we are on the road of Lent, walking toward the Crucifixion.  I want to shout at Jesus, "Don't go there!  You will get hurt!  Just don't do it!"  Of course I know he is going to do it as he always does, because God wants him to and he trusts God completely and loves us so much that he walks straight down that path.  Do you think it helps him to know that we are trying to go with him, so that he won't be so alone?  Sometimes we don't do such a good job, but still he knows we love him.  I do think that it might be so.  

[Please share with us your responses, questions, and comments.  Click on (number of) comments just below. If you don't know who to say you are, just say "anonymous" but it would be nice if you signed and said where you are from.]