Today as I sit here listening to the wind howl and watching the snow blow fiercely by the windows, I am reminded of winters on the hill where I grew up. Down town I don’t see the wind this way often, and honestly, life here is very cushy compared to living out where I am from.
As I think back to my childhood, I really can't recall a specific "time line" of events--it's more like flashes of memories and feelings of comfort, happiness and peace. Our days were full of adventure and making memories that would mold us into who we are today. Growing up there, with the people I had around me, was truly a blessing.
The homes were far and few in between, when I was small. Farmland spread out in between a few families. Fields of corn, hayfields and occasionally some winter's wheat blanketed the ground with scattered patches of woods throughout. The fields were always quiet and calm, except the random clamor of dirt bikes tracing out the edges traveling on to the next set of woods where our trails dispersed into a labyrinth of engaging twists and turns through the massive, old trees.
Days were filled with hours of play between the homes of friends. We would leave shortly after breakfast, only to return when we were hungry or ran out of day light--and sometimes for the rare, critical injury. Baseball, hockey, bikes and trail making, exploring a neighbor's junkyard, playing in another neighbor's barn, tearing things apart in Pa's garage (the last one rarely won us brownie points!) filled our days. Another "regular" spot, the "hole" on Fish Road, was where we would spend countless hours exploring. When we dropped down over the knoll to the bottom of the road, I always felt as if I had left reality---and all the weight from it. It was contently quiet there, and we all conformed to this realm of silence. I am unsure if our normally "excitable" voices and actions were simply distracted by the numerous treasures to explore there, or if the "hole" brought the same comfort and peace I felt to the barrage of bumbling boys trailing behind me. To this day, I can think of that place--its bubbling brooke and its thick, green ferns, its towering trees-- and it still warms my heart.
Most days, my mom and her friend, Deb, also our neighbor, were the responsible parties home on the Hill. I think of how they just released us to explore, and expressed no concern. I don't recall much interaction with our parents during daylight hours at all. We were always so busy doing what we viewed "important work" for a couple of ten year olds and our younger siblings. I was the only girl in our gaggle at the time, and I like to believe I was the reason mom and Deb justified us kids so freely roaming about! I was the voice of reason, after all!! (And I am CERTAIN this is the reason some of those boys are alive today…)
I think back to those days, and yes, we may have wandered far from home, we may have done some very crazy (and maybe not-so-intelligent) things--things we are still confessing to our folks as adults. But knowing my mom was always back at the house gave me peace. Knowing if I needed her, if I got hurt, if things got hard-- I could simply turn around and go back to where I came from.
In life we can find ourselves wandering far from the things that God has called us to. This world is busy. It is noisy. And until I just recently dropped down over that familiar knoll to the "hole" of Fish Road, I didn't realize how "noisy" my life had become. Nor how far I had wandered.
""Even now," declares the Lord, "return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning." Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity." Joel 2:12-13
In times of "wandering" from God--whether it be being consumed by a sin that separates us from Him, or being sucked into the busy, crazy, negativity of this world--there is nothing more comforting than falling into the welcoming arms of Jesus.