I know this may sound strange --but there is a certain comfort in having cold and ice and snow. I think it borders on that place of "the way it is supposed to be".... It is almost a sense of normalcy. It is a great comfort to know that everyone is tucked away --and if there is a power outage, we will have company and warmth --our propane tank is full and will last us a month of cold and more.... Our fridge is stocked. We have plenty of packages of dried beans on the shelf.
It is time to hunker down and share. That's what we people do.
During the summer, I heard all the stories from the women elders --picking and drying berries and choke cherries, how they were stored. And then when the winter came and snow was everywhere and unexpected visitors showed up, you always assumed they were hungry (why else would they move around during the winter --unless you are hungry or in danger). So, you got the dried berries and choke cherries, boiled some water and threw the fruit in --and ate summer in the middle of winter.
In the old, old days --before metal pots --one heated rocks and placed those in the leather water containers to heat the water... it took a while.... There was not a ceramic tradition here --well, there hadn't been for about a thousand years, anyway. Ceramics broke too easily when you packed things up on the dog's back to move to the next camp. And if you didn't have a dog, the women dragged the stuff on their backs.... The tipi and all the household goods belonged to the woman, and if she decided she didn't like the man after all, she had every right to deny him entry or any part of the household. Just the way it worked.
I guess there was a certain comfort in that, too.
In my house, the dried berries probably wouldn't last through the end of October. I would boil them all up BEFORE I had to carry them any where --along with the dried wild turnips and other roots and stuff too. You know, I imagine in my mind's eye that it would be my home where the hungry came in mid-winter, but the reality is that I would probably eat all the roots and berries I could during the summer, and then resort to the meat routine all winter....
Oh --I don't know.... when I was an avid back-country backpacker, and all the camp stuff divvied up to carry, and then the personal stash of trail mix etc found its place, I always always always took the trail mix intended for week, and divided it up into 14 parts, and didn't touch it for the whole time we were on the trail. Just in case. For an emergency. My nephew once caught me divvying up my stash when I had been asked to accompany his boy scout troop on a fifty mile six day hike, and he asked what I was doing --just in case, I responded. Just in case.
And I know so many people who live their whole lives that way --storing up good deeds just in case... --storing up good thoughts, good actions like a bank account.
But, survival skills have no account with grace.
There is a pastor here in town who drives 85mph every where, even at night when the deer are out. Drive more slowly, people have said --and the pastor says, I trust God and he has told me no deer will ever be hit by my car....
That's poor survival skills --not grace. Not prayerful power. Just poor survival skills.
--what about the cattle on the road? I want to ask.... But, I don't. Grace doesn't work that way either.
At prayer this morning (John 6:1-14)
After this Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias. A large crowd kept following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing for the sick.
Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. Now the Passover, the festival of the Jews, was near. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do.
Philip answered him, “Six months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.”
One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?”
Jesus said, “Make the people sit down.”
Now there was a great deal of grass in the place; so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed them to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted.
When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.”
So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets. When the people saw the sign that he had done, they began to say, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world.”
And that is grace. That is the way grace works.
So, in the meantime, we will exercise our survival skills --we must and we should.
But it will be by the grace of God at this and any other time that we shall eat. Together. And there will be more than enough. For everyone.
And just because this is my favorite psalm:
LORD, you have searched me out and known me; *
you know my sitting down and my rising up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
You trace my journeys and my resting-places *
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Indeed, there is not a word on my lips, *
but you, O LORD, know it altogether.
You press upon me behind and before *
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; *
it is so high that I cannot attain to it.
Where can I go then from your Spirit? *
where can I flee from your presence?
If I climb up to heaven, you are there; *
if I make the grave my bed, you are there also.
If I take the wings of the morning *
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
Even there your hand will lead me *
and your right hand hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will cover me, *
and the light around me turn to night,”
Darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day; *
darkness and light to you are both alike.
For you yourself created my inmost parts; *
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I will thank you because I am marvelously made; *
your works are wonderful, and I know it well.
My body was not hidden from you, *
while I was being made in secret
and woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my limbs, yet unfinished in the womb;
all of them were written in your book; *
they were fashioned day by day,
when as yet there was none of them.
How deep I find your thoughts, O God! *
how great is the sum of them!
If I were to count them, they would be more in number than the sand; *
to count them all, my life span would need to be like yours.
There we are.