From time to time when I may not have access to the net, I will schedule some Noontime favorites for posting. Here is a reflection that many of you liked about winter and family. I hope you enjoy visiting with it again . . .
Thursday, January 27, 2011 – Obadiah 1:2-9 – God’s Power
In this portion of Obadiah’s brief yet stern prophecy, we hear a series of questions that might cause us to frown as we read through them. It helps to know that Edom was “a long-standing enemy of Israel . . . During this period the Edomites had been forced to abandon their ancient home near the Gulf of Aquaba and had settled in southern Judah, where they appear among the adversaries of the Jews returning from exile”. It is also helpful to know that Edom was renowned for its wise men, and that Teman and Esau here are names used for the land. (Senior, 1135-1136) What we see here, similar to other images on which we have reflected recently, is God as powerful dispenser of justice. Nothing withstands God’s might.
I have spent the morning digging out from nearly a foot of snow that fell last night. Yesterday evening when I turned on the outside spotlights before dinner, I could barely see the trees just a few feet from the house . . . the temperature hovered at freezing and the flakes and mist were dense. I knew that in the morning the snow would be heavy and thick, that trees would shed old limbs, and that we might lose electrical power. I gathered candles, took the paraffin lantern from the summer closet where we store it between campfire dinners, and was getting out the matches and flashlights when everything went dark. The storm had gotten the best of our man-made machinery that lights the long nights and keeps us warm. No water. No TV. The land phone line has an 8 hour life, and the cell phone battery is charged but . . . the modern life slips away and in the face of nature’s power, I know how to behave and what to do.
I have spent a lot of time in the last 24 hours thinking of my deceased parents and older siblings who taught me how to settle into the force of winter. As I took the flashlight around the house and closed drapes, checked that windows and doors were snug in their places, heated water on the propane range for a pot of tea . . . I remembered my brother and Dad hauling water from the spring house to flush toilets when 15 of us were snowed in for week when I was little. As I took the lantern, tea and snacks to my bedroom and settled in with magazines I have had no time to read . . . I remembered how my mother mixed venison with beef to make a meal for 7 stretch for 15. “No thanks,” my aunt said to my Mother, “I don’t care for venison. I’ll have the meatloaf”. My mother smiled – it was beef, pork . . . and venison. No one noticed. As I put on an extra pair of socks, left on my sweat pants and heavy sweater and snugged in to bed, I remembered how my sister addressed her wedding invitations by lantern light in that big storm . . . how my Dad brought in a space heater and put a hole in the chimney (which Mother later covered with a decorative plate) and hung heavy army blankets in doorways to keep us all warm and in one place. As I waited for the storm to pass and for the many busy folks at the electric company to restore the artificial power on which we depend so much, I remembered the many little flashes of memories that are my heritage . . . and I thanked God for the goodness of the lessons so well taught and so earnestly learned.
Today as my relatives, neighbors and I dig out and assess the damage – two trees lost heavy limbs that block the drive, a downspout is frozen shut – I putter and make repairs, thinking all the while of the dark beauty of the swirling storm last night juxtaposed with the blinding brightness of this beautiful white world we have been given for a day or two. There are so many memories that still float in the dazzling brightness of the aftermath.
At midnight last night, as I waited for my youngest son to arrive home safely from work in his four-wheel drive, I stood at the window in the old, old portion of the house and watched the night white world of snow settle down with the passing of the storm. There was not a light to be seen and yet the eerie whiteness shone with a clarity that was brighter than an early summer morning. How can we witness such beauty and not know that God is great, that God saves, and that God’s power is beyond any other?
Allies and friends come and go. Family members are born and die. Institutions and companies arise and perish. Customs and cults appear and disappear. Nations and cultures rise and fall; yet the constant in all of this is God and God’s power to save and restore.Obadiah describes a God with a singing Harvest Sword; but he also describes God who is hope and restoration. These words become all the more powerful when we allow the force of nature to witness God to us. They hold deeper meaning when we consider the physical, emotional and spiritual storms we have weathered. And they sweeten our image of the justice wielding God when we allow God’s power to guide us, to protect us and to love us. The world can be a dangerous place – difficult to survive. But when we place ourselves in the hands of God who has made all things – even the elements – there is nothing to fear. The snow and the wind and ice many deny us our comfort for a time and may cause irreparable damage . . . but they do not separate us from our God. In fact, they speak of God’s power, God’s justice yes . . . but also God’s love.
Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1135-1136. Print.