"It is the simple things of life that make living worthwhile, the sweet fundamental things such as love and duty, work and rest, and living close to nature." -Laura Ingalls Wilder
We are in the midst of preparing for winter at the Coke Homestead. I've been pondering, of late, the implications and spiritual parallels of this task. I've always enjoyed anticipating and getting all ready for winter.
((( When we lived in town, in our cozy little home which was on-the-grid with "regular" electricity, natural gas heat, and a short little driveway leading to the paved street, the way we prepared looked quite different. We raked, mulched, cleaned up the garden, parked bikes, dusted off the shovel, and I found new hot cocoa recipes. That pretty much covered the necessary work.
Our winter preparation here at our home on the mountain looks much different. We heat solely with wood and cutting, hauling and stacking is a time-consuming job. Our generator has different needs and challenges now with freezing temps than it did this summer. While a few short months ago, we were struggling to keep the engine cool enough, we are now looking at the need to install a heater in the shed to keep it warm. We have a mile-long "driveway" leading from the paved street to our house. As the only residents in our area, if we want to get in and out, road maintenance is our responsibility. We struggle with mud in the spring and snow in winter. Our water supply is also a bit different. As well-drilling and finding water is spotty in our area, we elected to use the constant, ever-flowing, never-freezing creek as our source. Although we have to filter the daylights out of it, we knew it was there and available and there was no risk in drilling to see if we could find it. There is a 450 ft. run uphill from our well-house to the house and the waterline is somewhat vulnerable to freezing temps in some spots. While we believe we have fixed the problems we encountered last winter, only time will tell. )))
We cannot rely on anyone else to keep things running here. We are, in most ways, self-sustained.
I have struggled, at times, with looking back at the ease and relative comfort we enjoyed at our little house on Alder Dr. and wistfully remembering our old life.
Yet...there is something right and rewarding about being affected by the seasons and weather. I can't quite put my finger on it and often I decide that I'm just a "glutton for punishment" but really I believe that there is something real and valuable in all this. Have you ever been outside on a beautiful day and sat down on the earth, breathed the fresh air, gazed out on the mountains, and felt a soul-satisfying contentment deep down inside? If so, then you know what I'm referring to. "Earth's crammed with Heaven/and every common bush afire with God/but only he who sees takes off his shoes/the rest sit round it and pluck blackberries."- Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
(I would almost say that anything good that has ever happened in the deepest part of my soul has happened outside.)
Ironically, relying "solely" on ourselves has required relying more fully on God. Maybe I'm getting to the core benefit to being affected by the seasons and elements. I have realized over the years that being close to nature brings me closer to my Lord and Saviour.
This past year has been one of extremes. Our highs have been the highest ever and our lows, the lowest ever. I have been learning (albeit the hard way) to continually set my heart and mind on things above...(Col. Chapter 3). The kids and I are in the process of memorizing the entire chapter and I find myself waking up to the verses running through my mind.
Romans 15:13 is written and taped to the mirror in our bathroom. It reads, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Recently, Jeremy added this to the mirror: "And when He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And behold, there arose a great storm in the sea, so that the boat was covered with the waves; but He Himself was asleep. And they came to Him and awoke Him saying, 'Save us, Lord; we are perishing!' And He said to them, 'Why are you timid, you men of little faith?' Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea; and it became perfectly calm."
Our circumstances are often out of our control. The Lord gave me this little sentence and I notice the Holy Spirit brings it to mind often when I feel as though I will drown in all that's been going on: "Choose Joy".