I’ve been stuck inside the house since Tuesday due to icy roads, frigid temperatures, and now seven inches of snow on top of the ice. Cabin fever never really set in for me, though, because the weather made it acceptable for me to not have to go anywhere! It’s peak flu season…and I’m still battling the monster thoughts that hover on the edge of my “self talk” all the time. It’s rather exhausting having to beat back worry every time I step out of the house! I suppose you could call it “Just in Case” thinking.
“There might be germs on that doorknob. Better use my sleeve or a tissue instead of my hand to open it, just in case. Try not to use public restrooms because it’s impossible to keep the sink handles clean, but in case of an emergency pit stop, use a paper towel to turn off the faucet and to open the door, just in case. Did raw chicken juice drip on that grocery basket handle? Better use a sanitizing wipe just in case. Did the person who prepared the food in this restaurant have a stomach virus? Better not eat much of it, just in case. Is my stomach bloated because I’m getting sick? Better not eat much, just in case.”
These are thoughts that creep up without my consent. I beat them back — or pacify them somewhat — by making concessions in the way I behave.
So while my facebook friends and neighbors are making snow ice cream and eating icicles, I will not, nor will I allow my daughter to experience those rites of snowhood. What if the snow has germs? Better not eat it, just in case. What if the icicle has pieces of chemicals embedded in it from the rooftop? Better stay away from it…just in case.
I’m trying to remember if there are any Bible characters who acted in “just in case” mode…but at this time I can’t find one. I think perhaps I am the only person on my street who blanched at the sight of the smothering snow. It weighs down my heart. I don’t know how to explain it in writing or in speech. There is no explanation, I think. Yes, snowflakes are incredibly beautiful as they float gently through the air…but they create a cold blanket that hides life beneath. I know the Lord created snow…and I know it it beneficial in that it waters the ground and prepares the way for spring. Who am I, weakling that I am, to complain about the majesties God paints with the clouds?
Yet my spirit feels cold as I gaze at our palm tree standing forlornly covered in snow. My husband is certain we’ll lose it since we have been over 100 hours below freezing. The thought of losing that tree is more than I can bear. It is my link to sunny Florida..to the land of sand and sea and breezes, of afternoon thunderstorms and lush vegetation, of laid back lifestyles and Jimmy Buffet, of hurricanes and alligators and Disney, of seashells and long walks on the pier…Florida is where I found courage I didn’t know I had. I weathered four hurricanes in one year. I learned how to swim. I feel like Legolas in The Lord of the Rings, who hears the call of the sea gulls and is never the same again. Galadriel warns him:
Legolas Greenleaf long under tree
In joy thou hast lived. Beware of the Sea!
If thou hearest the cry of the gull on the shore,
Thy heart shall then rest in the forest no more.
That’s not to say that my “just in case” way of thinking was absent in Florida; it was there, hovering on the outskirts of my mind, every day just as it is here. Somehow, though, I found peace for my soul through absorbing the beauty and majesty of my surroundings, whether it was on the seashore or in the incredible vegetative life around me. The Lord has provided beauty here at home through the tropical plants he’s allowed to thrive in our backyard.
I know in light of all the angst in the world…Haiti, Egypt, persecutions…my plea to save my little palm tree is insignificant. But it represents a lifestyle that one day I pray I will be able to reclaim for my own…
For now, in my attempt to learn to be content with my circumstances, I pray God will strengthen me so that unlike the palm tree, I will not wither and turn sickly when life grows cold. The strength of the Word is enough to warm even the coldest places of my spirit when I look upon the moonscape outside, and I find awe, even in the midst of despair, as did Job:
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
12 “Have you ever given orders to the morning,
or shown the dawn its place,
13 that it might take the earth by the edges
and shake the wicked out of it?
16 “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow
or seen the storehouses of the hail,
23 which I reserve for times of trouble,
for days of war and battle?
24 What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed,
or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?
25 Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,
and a path for the thunderstorm,
26 to water a land where no one lives,
an uninhabited desert,
27 to satisfy a desolate wasteland
and make it sprout with grass?
28 Does the rain have a father?
Who fathers the drops of dew?
29 From whose womb comes the ice?
Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens
30 when the waters become hard as stone,
when the surface of the deep is frozen?
Certainly not I, Lord. You give us beautiful seasons…and you also take them away…and I praise you for the spring only You can see that is lying dormant under the earth.