There are blizzard conditions just north of us... we can see them from our kitchen window.... which I suppose makes me as much a weather expert as Palin on foreign policy because she could see Russia out her window, or some such thing. Now... why did I think that? Sheeeeeesh......
For certain sure --we drove to Rapid on Saturday to pick up DC from the airport. When we left Eagle Butte, it was 18 degrees. When we arrived in Rapid, it was 55 degrees. Yesterday it was warm... and wonderful. I had been snowed out of Cherry Creek for the last three months, so I set yesterday to go there --canceling in one church in order to go to Cherry Creek. I am glad we did go there --even though it was powwow weekend down there --a "chief" powwow honoring the leaders of previous generations.... (And, please do understand that it was purposefully planned to have this powwow on President's weekend. Just sayin'.)
I am glad to have gone to Cherry Creek because... well, there were two young men who came to church --about ages 8-10 or so. And I recognized them as being dancers I had met up in Iron Lightening on the Fourth of July. And I got to tell them how wonderful their dancing was there --and how I hope they continue to dance. And I got to see the folks that brought them be all proud of them --and grateful that the church was open, because they come from Rapid to get the kids to dance in the places of their ancestors.
And, I got to see DC jump up and run across the room to obliterate a smoking shoe --one of the wheelchair bound ladies had been moved too close to the portable propane heater I had set up in the church --and her shoe started to smoke with heat in the middle of the Eucharistic prayer.... Tongues of fire, I guess, and all that. There was much concern and then great laughter... and too much bread and more laughter... and it was good.
Then we journeyed on to Thunder Butte --up out of the Cheyenne River basin, across the hilly plain and in to the next river basin --the Moreau River, forty miles of gravel road that kept trying to spin us round and about, warm sunshine pouring in through the windows....
The morning had started with low fog over the rivers, and turned to almost spring-like warmth in the afternoon. After church in Thunder Butte where they are getting used to me making them sing, and too much bread again even though we had late comers arrive and help us eat it all (I had baked bread because we were out of wafers) --then we had meatballs in sauce, a noodle thing with broccoli, a hot dog --and some soda --and by then the wind had picked up. Big. Wind.
When we got back down to the highway --and back to a place where we could see the distant horizon --we saw the low clouds to the north --threatening gray, and close to the earth, stampeding across the hills towards us.
But we had to navigate another dirt road, and another gathering for prayer and too much bread... and I yelled at the clouds --you, you, you wait 'til we get back on the highway... please. By then, the wind was rattling the windows, skudding tumbleweeds at breakneck speeds (faster than the pheasants could fly, certainly), piling their golden tumbleweed skeletons up against fences and filling ditches....
And I have noticed that there are fewer eagles this year.... fewer birds of prey waiting atop the poles and posts. Fewer bunnies. Fewer mice scurrying beside the road. Herds of cattle are smaller. The grasses in some areas are gone --only exposed raw naked earth. All the gullies that have small earthen dams to catch the runoff of rain and snow are cracked and dry. Like my hands and lips, the earth is chapped. The drought is insidious. Yet blatant. No escape from withering desiccation....
Which is a tragic place to begin Lent.... A tragic circumstance to ponder and practice our participation in Christ's eternal priesthood. Because there is only helplessness. And vulnerability. How does one reconcile with a killer drought?
Talk about the short road to humility. And remembering total dependence....
At prayer this morning (Canticle: First Song of Isaiah, beginning at Isaiah 12:2)
Surely, it is God who saves me; *
I will trust in him and not be afraid.
For the Lord is my stronghold and my sure defense, *
and he will be my Savior.
Therefore you shall draw water with rejoicing *
from the springs of salvation.
And on that day you shall say, *
Give thanks to the Lord and call upon his Name;
Make his deeds known among the peoples; *
see that they remember that his Name is exalted.
Hey God, it's margaret. In the dance of the children. In the wind. In too much bread. In the dry earth and the skeleton tumbleweeds. In the blatant circumstance of extreme drought. I see you.
And I pray for E who lost her brother to death. For T whose husband is dying. For T who died on Saturday. For all those suffering from the drought. And I pray for a good snow storm this week to make DC happy, and to fill those withering basins with something for the animals to drink. Amen.