There is a snow storm coming, and The Best Beloved is leaving this afternoon for a business trip. (I forecast dreadful weather by his business trips.) This makes me restless and nervous. I used to love storms and filthy weather of all kinds. But as I grow older and worry about falls on icy roads, and am less able to whack great clumps of ice-heavy snow off breaking branches, let alone shovel myself out; as storms seems to be more severe with each passing season; and as I now live with a dog — The Rescuepoo — who refuses to do his business unless the weather’s temperate, well, I am anxious.
Even the deer, pacing back and forth along the high fence at the back of the property seem on edge. Perhaps they sense the storm coming and are trying to find food before they have to hunker down under a tree and ride it out. There is a kind of stillness in the air, and the light — bouncing so dazzlingly bright off the snow this morning — has taken on a milky cast.
I have food. The Best Beloved heaved a huge branch off the back fence that had bowed it and was encouraging the deer to get into the garden and drive The Rescuepoo mad. (Poor lamb, he barks and barks until he makes himself sick if the deer get in, not stopping until I chase them out, which is another story altogether.) The generator is in good working order, should the power go out. I have wood for the fireplace. The larder is stocked. I have books to read.
All will be well.
But still, I do not like big storms.
This matters not at all to the storm, of course, which will do whatever it wants to do, wherever it wants to do it. But even in the midst of anxiety, I recognize a gift. My days are so luxurious most of the time. The lights go on at the flick of a switch. The water is hot, should I wish it, or cold if I wish that. The furnace works. My bed is soft. It’s easy to slip into a state in which I take these things for granted. I forget about “the godhead of the table”, as Anne Sexton called her plain old kitchen table in her prayer/poem, Welcome Morning. It’s easy to forget the indescribable bounty of a quiet, warm room filled with light, enough food to eat and someone to love. I forget. As Sexton said:
All this is God,
right here in my pea-green house
and I mean,
though often forget,
to give thanks,
to faint down by the kitchen table
in a prayer of rejoicing
as the holy birds at the kitchen window
peck into their marriage of seeds.
Storms — whether meteorological, emotional, political, or spiritual — remind me to take nothing for granted, that I am, in the end, in control of very little, and that not to recognize the miracles of electricity and central heating and indoor plumbing and clean clothes and such things is a kind of blasphemy. I am blessed far beyond my deserving. Storms also remind me of that quintessential wisdom: This, too, shall pass. Good weather or bad. And in the end, all the fretting I do pre-storm is neither useful or necessary. The storm will come. The storm with break over my head. The storm will pass. Not all the fretting in the world will change that. Mark Twain said, “I’ve lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened.” Such a smart man.
So, just as I try to remember to bless the cup that holds my tea, and the tea in the cup, and the keyboard that transforms my scattered thoughts into the miracle of communication, and the food in my bowl, and the deer at the fence, I will try to remember to bless the storm as well, for snow provides shelter for the mice and other small creatures and nourishes the earth come spring, and give thanks that it reminds me to give thanks, and to trust that all shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well. (Julian of Norwich)