I watch the words scroll across the television screen . . .
WINTER STORM WARNING
National Weather Service says it’s supposed to start Monday at 11 AM and continue until Tuesday at 11 AM.
Warning’s for all southeast Wisconsin. We’re to expect high winds reaching 40 mph. Four to six inches of snow. Freezing rain. Hazardous roads.
As if we should be shocked here. But since we’ve had record-breaking, mid-fifty degree days in December, some thought we might not see snow.
It can get you in trouble.
We have been warned.
Here on the farm, I head to the barn, stiff east wind tries to stop my progress.
Horses with full winter coats need extra protection. Time to groom every single one of them. Time to scrape off crusted dirt, to brush off the dust. Time to cover in red—those blankets I bought and inscribed with their names.
Do they know? If I told them in a language they could understand, would they believe? Or would they scoff? Will they follow me into their shelter and allow me to clean, to cover, to protect from fury coming?
Or will they run rebellious?
I start with their stalls. I clean their manured beds and spread fresh pine shavings on which to lay their heads.
I walk to each horse in the paddock, lead line in hand. Standing firm on all fours, each waits for me, knowing I’m coming.
I slip halter over their heads and walk them, one-by-one, into the barn.
I clean each horse.
My fingers ache as I wrap them in blankets, buckling at chest, crossing under belly, strapping through legs, securing.
All are done, except one.
I try to catch her but she runs away. Peanut, the one I know by name. She will not be caught, the rebel!
I approach slowly. She moves away. I don’t chase. I watch. And I wait. She stops. Looks at me. I take a step toward her. She allows, watching. I take another. She bolts.
I coach myself.
Peanut and I, we do this pas de deux, this stopping and starting, this tender approaching and running.
Then, slowly, surely, she lets me come closer.
And then, she stands still.
She lets me come all the way up to her.
I stroke her neck with one finger, gently, ever so gently.
And then . . .
I begin . . .
I slip lead line over her neck.
She jerks just a bit.
If only she could trust. I only want to help.
“There now. That wasn’t so bad. You’re going to appreciate your blanket, silly mare.”
I speak it to her softly.
So, she follows me, finally, into the barn, into the shelter from the coming storm.
Winds pick up while we’re inside. I look out a stall. A wicked gust topples the riding arena’s wood bench.
Nearby, our American flag rips free from bottom tether, a ragged flapping of despair, a hanging on for dear life. One more gust and she might be gone with the wind.
Even nations are vulnerable.
~ ~ ~
Two hours pass. Nick needs a ride to work. Salt truck blinks yellow, broadcasting traction.
Farm fields are dusted in the season’s second white. Unusual for this time of year. Winds blow hard. We feel the wind’s force rocking our car.
Why do we keep forging ahead on such dangerous paths? We don’t want to disappoint. Nick’s boss, the bakery owner, he’s counting on him. But are we doing the right thing? So many questions in life.
I want our son to learn responsibility, dependability, honorability. I want him to practice perseverance and faith, depending on God to meet his need in the storms.
We arrive safely for Nick’s two-hour shift. I cozy up to a table with a steaming mug of mint mocha in hand. I watch winds blow bows of evergreen garland wrapped around rod iron railings by the bakery door.
It will be dark soon. Snow is accumulating.
Our journey home will be hard, no doubt.
5 PM. Coffee shop closes. I must leave.
I’m used to the routine.
Nick works until 5:30 while I sit in the car reading, praying, even sometimes clicking out words on this small Microsoft Surface.
Today, I trudge through snow and find our car encased in ice, windows glued. I pull the driver’s side door toward me with as much strength as I can muster, hoping for a breakthrough.
My first attempt—a failure.
The second, I’m determined.
I must have pulled harder than I knew I could.
The door opens and I reach inside for the snow brush and scraper, turn on engine and heat, begin chipping away at icy cataracts blurring all windows.
Nick trudges to car.
It is dark now. Snow covers all. Plows can’t keep up.
We must get home.
Slowly, so slowly, we move forward, determined. Both hands on steering wheel, fingers squeezing. Back straight and slanted forward. Eyes wide, looking for guideposts.
We see several cars in the median, emergency vehicles flashing.
A delivery truck jack-knifes, its nose in the ditch, facing the opposite direction.
How easy we can slip off the path, get turned around.
How easy to get stuck, buried.
Then, only then do we sit helpless and hoping . . .
For a savior . . .
When you’re stranded . . .
Alone . . .
You might just be . . .
Ready . . .
I look not to the right or the left—toward all the flash—but keep my eyes fixed—straight ahead.
Husband/Father calls concerned.
Rest assured, dear one. We are in the Best Hands, no matter what.
Past accidents, we find ourselves behind a long line of cars, all following a semi with hazard lights flashing.
I notice the passing lane . . .
Clear, while right lane is covered with snow.
All the cars follow the truck like lemmings.
Don’t they see?
Left lane is clear!
Why do they follow?
Dare I be different?
Dare I move into left lane?
Dare I pass all the lemmings?
Dare I drive on the road not traveled?
We are alone in the dark of the storm, pelting hard.
Thirty-minute commute morphs into an hour and a half before we see our exit sign.
I sigh relief as I flick the turn signal on. Still, we have a couple country-road miles to go. But for the markers along each side, we would not know the road. Buried invisible.
By faith we proceed. No sight.
Keep moving forward. Full faith.
Our home is up the way. We know.
And then, there it is. Our drive.
Up the gravel we go.
Our son staked the way, in better days, reflectors marking invisible.
We pass old crabapple, red fruit clinging, encased in ice, feeding the birds.
Lord, let me be like this tree—aged—arthritic—twisted. By your grace, still feed—through me!
I steer past, slip into our shelter from storm, quiet the engine.
I sigh “Thank you, Jesus!”
He gathers dirty dishes from front and back—a coffee mug, a water glass, a cereal bowl, a chocolate candy wrapper—evidence of my eating, drinking, indulging—on the run. I didn’t even ask, but our son, my son, HIS son, he takes all my mess in his hands and still opens the door of our house.
We both step inside, crossing threshold.
We are home.
Safe and sound.
Winds continue howling their rage. They pelt our windows with sleet.
But we are home.
Safe and sound.
We sit down to feast, in peace, with fire in the center of our sanctuary.
I pray all will find such solace.
“Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay each one for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star. The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”