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L'Abri Journals...ACGray

February 2005
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“In the prolonged winters of the past, country dwellers had to live with silence.   Except for domestic bustle, and the subdued noises of animals pent in barn and sheepfold, the white world surrounded them with a silence at once healing and forbidding, spacious and confining…. Never mind that silence, however lengthy, is preferable to the trivia that these technological marvels can bring into the remotest farmhouse today.”  Lee Pennock Huntington, Hill Song, A Country Journal       

 Not only for me is this silence of which Huntington writes preferable, but it is a necessity if I am to hear the still small voice of sanity and meaning for living out these days.  The mercury bouncing up and down the thermometer marks these midwinter days on Piney Mountain.  Enough frigid temperatures, however, remind me that spring is still a few weeks distant.  Often enough, the night sky has been cloud-free, bringing a comradeship with distant suns and planets whirling noiselessly in the starry universe.   Viewing them from earth in winter challenges the imagination.  Ninety odd million miles at the end of its invisible Solar tether our planet soars through space on its yearly axis around the sun, spinning endlessly on its tilted axis.  That it has done so for eons with perfect timing amidst billions of solar systems is for me reassurance that faith in the Great Timekeeper of the universe remains a solid bedrock for living, no matter earthquakes, tsunamis, and the vagaries of nature.   

            I treasure these shut-in winter days as time to read lessons others have learned so well.  Parker J. Palmer in Let Your Life Speak writes metaphorically that “inward winters take many forms –failure, betrayal, depression, and death” – that ”one gift of winter is the reminder that times of dormancy and deep rest are essential to all living things, that despite all appearances, nature is not dead in winter –it has gone underground to renew itself and prepare for spring.  Then we discover once again that the cycle of the seasons is trustworthy and life-giving…”    Paul Tournier in The Adventure of Living observes:  “We can have a more exact awareness of meeting God when there bursts forth in our minds some thought that imposes itself upon us…by its unmistakable savour of truth, a thought that transforms us, changes our attitude towards our problems, even if they are not solved on the intellectual plane.  It is not the problems that change, but we ourselves; we evolve, and then the problems present themselves to us differently.  We realize that the truth we have discovered not only is true for us….but has a universal value;  it helps us to understand ourselves, to understand all men, to understand life.”  Philip Yancey in Where is God When It Hurts? reminds us that we have a High Priest who, having graduated from the school of suffering, “is able to deal gently with those who are going astray…. Because of Jesus, God truly understands our pain.  Our tears become His tears.  We are not abandoned.  The surgery of life hurts.  It helps me…to know that the Surgeon Himself, the Wounded Surgeon, has felt every stab of pain and every sorrow.” These lessons occupy my thoughts as silence falls on Chalet L’Abri with the benediction of another glorious winter snowfall.