Here I am. A little wet and a lot exhausted, and a lot humbled by my bad, bad attitude.
We didn’t have electricity for three days, and no water for four. You can bet our kitchen stank, stunk, and stinked to high heaven. After all the food in the fridge rotted, and rotted food-water leaked all over the floor, we finally decided to go ahead and clean out the fridge even though we still had no water. Boy, was that something. After it took both Grace and I together, using all the strength we could muster while trying not to breathe through our noses, to lug that awful garbage out to end of the driveway (sometimes I really regret not having sons), we still had all the dirty dishes that had held all that rotted food all over our counter that we couldn’t rinse out. We also had all the dishes from the previous three days that we had been unable to wash.
All that stinkiness sat there for what seemed like an eternity before our property owners were able to find the leak in our well, caused by trees falling and their roots wreaking havoc on the underground world. They repaired it and refilled the tank and I tell you I have never loved water so much. Nor have I ever loved more the people who know how to find and fix things in places like underground worlds. I might even go so far as to show my appreciation by actually drinking water again, even though I’m always trying to stick it to the man by not drinking it. I don’t like when they say I have to drink it even though I’m not thirsty. But that’s another post for another day…
I think I reached my lowest point on the evening of the second day, as I drove to Trader Joe’s after the sun had set, looking for food that didn’t need to be prepared (or refrigerated) that I could take to the potluck at church the next day. I was in such a deep funk. First of all, not only was our house freezing beyond belief and all our firewood wet, but our house was also very nearly inaccessible. All entrances and exits were blocked by either police cars with spinning lights or a simple sign in the road that said “Road Closed.” Every time we tried to drive anywhere was a gamble. We’d drive around the “Road Closed” signs and hope for the best, often getting all the way to the end of the road, only to be turned back around and have to try another way. Once I got out, all I could do was look at all the houses that I drove past in the night with all their beautiful lights and all I could feel was jealousy. “Those people in those houses…. they don’t even KNOW what they have right now!” I grumbled in my heart. I think I might have hated the people in those houses with those beautiful lights. It was a seriously ugly, low point for me. And then I got home and cried because of the beauty of simple fire light, while sharing a simple meal of pizza and wine and Sprite with lovely people. What a fickle heart I have.
But eventually, power WAS restored. And when our road finally opened up and we could actually drive down it, we couldn’t believe what we saw. 20-30 trees had fallen across our little road, some were still dangling from live power lines. Crews had been working around the clock, cutting through a mess of trunks, branches and leaves to try to make a way through and bring life back to the living. By the way, have you ever smelled fresh-cut eucalyptus trees, wet with rain? I will never forget that amazing smell in the midst of such a disaster zone. It was like all my senses were awakened and the view was made even more poignant. Sometimes I’m awakened in this same way on Sunday mornings when I’m tired and maybe grumpy and always hungry and the prayers start to stick in my throat… and then the incense comes swinging down the aisles. I couldn’t escape it if I wanted, but why would I want to? It swings my direction, it swings the other direction, it swings over all of us, with large puffs of smoke, rising to heaven along with our prayers. It opens our senses and we turn toward the reading of the gospel and we listen to the words chanted, and we cross our bodies, mind, mouth and heart, and it’s all made so very poignant as we prepare ourselves for Holy Eucharist, and prepare ourselves to be made whole. Bit by bit, week by week. It’s a process for such a fickle-hearted person like me.
But now the sun is out and chainsaws have been the soundtrack of my work day today. I’m sitting here looking out my back window, watching the sun set through a clearing that wasn’t there before. I’m looking at seven newly cut trunks, just in my line of view from my couch, which has let in light that wasn’t there before. It’s no small feat, cutting these tall trees, I tell you. See those teeny, tiny guys, way up there in those trees? They went almost to the top and cut down all the branches, working their way down. Then they cut the bare trunks. That view right there…imagine seven of the trees gone now. I don’t know why cutting trees always makes me so sad. I don’t think I could possibly be the granddaughter of a forester. I’m way too sentimental about these things.
But on the other hand, do you see that grass? I mean, yeah, I know it’s like two feet tall but do you see that green? I would never have thought that green was a real-life color, but it is. Oh, it is. It is everywhere right now. It’s like we live in a fairy tale. A very rainy, muddy fairy tale.
In the midst of my funk last Saturday, my mom sent me videos she was finally getting around to uploading from Christmas. I tell you, I couldn’t stop smiling. I know this post is long and I know I have a fickle heart, and I know it makes no sense to put this video here in this post. But something about this night at my mom and dad’s last December in Dallas, surrounded by people that I love, just brings my heart gladness and now I’d like to share that gladness here. It was one of those impromptu music nights that somehow always go better than if we had planned it. Sadie and Grace singing (I think I joined in some on the chorus), Sadie and Josh on guitar, Robbie jumped up and started plunking out a piano part, and then the best part of the night was when Uncle Billy suddenly pulled out a harmonica that nobody even knew he had in his pocket. Perfect. It was perfect. Maybe the lyrics about untying all the cables and ropes and just floating are exactly what I needed to hear right now.