A storm was brewing. Though the sun shone from a bright blue sky and warm rays roused the winter landscape, rustling leaves in robust winds warned of lightning, thunderclaps, and pounding rain.
It has been a trying winter. Multiple snowstorms, freezing rain, and icy temperatures have made burials challenging at the cemetery. And we’ve already buried—in less than three months—what used to be our yearly average. The COVID mess is finally winding down, while the Russian invasion of the Ukraine heats up. Gas prices are spiking, along with everything else. From health issues to financial insecurities, losing loved ones, and not knowing who or what to believe anymore, I don’t know a single soul who isn’t going through hard times.
In order to face the day, I need a bit of a pep-talk. Since I am a lousy cheerleader, I look to those who have inspired humanity from ages past. Each morning, after my personal prayer time, I read a passage from scripture, classic fiction, or poetry. I have come across some wonderful gems—imagery that takes me to another world, mentally and emotionally.
It is fascinating to note that some of the greatest writers lived through some of the most challenging epochs in human history. It was not when the world was at peace and life was calm that they rose to such transports of brilliance, insight, and elucidation, but rather when the world seemed to be falling into ruin.
This morning, myriad birds chirped outside my window, frogs sang in the creek, the hanging chimes swirled in harmony, and my soul rejoiced in the natural beauty laid before my eyes and poured into my ears. Rays of sunlight slanted across the yard, highlighting tiny patches of green against the vast stretches of brown grass. The last leaves on the old oak fell to the ground as new buds swelled. No doubt, winter still has a few frosty surprises in store for us, but spring hinted at her future glory.
In the apparent ever-lasting repetition of seasons, I sometimes get caught in a deceptive trap, thinking that each season will follow upon the next—forever. Yet death does have its day, and there is a veil I cannot peek behind. To live in the present moment is to truly experience life as it is offered. A poet may transport my soul, but not by taking me away, but rather by rousing my spirit to what is happening right now.
Beautiful days do not last. Storms inevitably roll in. My neighbor passed away today. More friends and family will pass in the days to come. It will be my turn to move on at some point. But the lesson of singing birds, wild storms, and changing seasons, is that we have the grace of living now.
As the day progressed, challenges mounted; several of us had to be in different places at the same time, a bi-location issue none of us has mastered. I soon discovered, yet again, the myriad ways human beings handle stress.
One daughter offered up her slim hope of a tiny mid-term break to help my son with a mission impossible, while my son joked about his quandary with legendary quotes to put everything into proper perspective. Between sacrificial love and witty humor, a path was soon forged through the downpour of challenges hitting us, it seemed, all on one day.
In a remarkably astute acceptance of the obvious, I made a conscious decision to simply do what was in front of me and not try to do everything at once. I had car issues, transportation problems, insurance records to update, two family members called to jury duty while still needed at work, tax-related gobbly-gook under a deadline, homeschool lessons to complete, a storm rolling in, flooding in the basement, and dinner to make.
In the acceptance of the present moment, I discovered an enlargement of spirit. The daily bread of God’s grace is most manifest when I lift my soul to Him.
Whatever happens, He is with me—if I am with Him.
Peace descended; I could think again. I made a call, drove where I had to go, returned home, completed an email, and then made a salad to go with leftovers for dinner.
There was a lot I didn’t accomplish. I didn’t complete a writing project, post my work online, chat with a friend, take a long walk, or connect with the carpenter. But the day was complete and fruitful—even if in only tiny ways—nonetheless.
In a world where catastrophes are brewing, and millions of people from Yemen to Ukraine are suffering unspeakably, a late winter storm and to-do-list overload are only a shadow of life challenges. But God’s grace lives in all of our human struggles—messy life and painful death.
All is quiet at the moment. Cold has descended and the rain stopped. It’s dark outside, but a book awaits. Grateful for whatever good has happened and resolved to work on areas of weakness, I can put this day to bed. Once again, I leave everything in His hands. Now to rest. With God’s help, I’ll deal with tomorrow and face the morning, even if another storm is brewing.
A. K. Frailey is the author of 15 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.
Make the most of life’s journey.
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“An excellent series of reflections.” ~McEvoy
A series of inspirational reflections that continue my journey as a widow raising a large family in a turbulent world.
“I was really challenged and uplifted by this book.” ~Baumgardner