"I am not afraid of storms,
for I am learning
to sail my ship."
-Louisa May Alcott
On the first day of second grade my teacher asked us to share our favorite color. When my turn came I proudly declared, "The color of the sky right before it storms." I thought it was a brilliant answer, the class thought it was funny. "Do you mean gray?" She threw out a line to help. I said yes and thought no. My family and I had often sat on the swing and steps of our porch to watch storms roll in. We would feel the sharp switch in wind and temperature. The skies would darken in layers of gray and blue and then open to rain. I still love to breath in the smell of rain and damp earth. But it is very different it is to be on open sea when a storm hits. When the wind and rain shape the seascape like clay in a child's hand. Standing on land the stormy sky is like a canvas, colors crashing and blending. At sea, it becomes a mirror. What ever is trapped between sky and sea becomes part of the storm until it passes.
I loved the story of Jesus calming the storm as a child. That when the storm was at it most destructive state, and the others were at their most desperate, he stopped it with three words. "Quiet! Be Still." And it was. Be still. The opposite of what storms are and what the others in the boat felt. Still, unmoving, at rest, free from sound or stirring. Can you imagine what that was like? To go from the roar of the storm and sea engulfing you, the slamming waves, colliding cold, wet bodies into rough wood. Dark clouds opening to let lose torrents. And then three words spoken and it is all still.
We are not use to being still in this wild ride of ours. Ministry is at full tilt, the boys at times out pacing that. Five lives tangled and moving forward. Fundraising and mailings. Visits with old and new friends. But not this Christmas break. We have been sick the majority of it. First Levi with the flu, then Ian holding onto a fever and nasty cough, and now Luke with an ugly five day virus. Plans have been changed, cancelled, and we have stayed in. Scrabble, movies and books have replaced sight, sounds and people. And it is strange to not be going at the speed we expected to. Jeff instead reads aloud another chapter of The Hobbit to a feverish boy. I listen as Bilbo Baggins fights fear of a great adventure being thrust upon him, longing security of an old life instead of the new self doubt. And I chuckle thinking of our lives right now and the adventures coming. I watch Ian put puzzle piece after puzzle piece together. Completely satisfied when pieces lock together and undeterred when they do not. He shouts the same "YEA, I did it" as they lock, and a quieted, "not yet" as he pushes away the pieces that didn't match up. And I realize he knows more about this process than I do. I delve into Anna Karinina and am challenged with forgiveness. And then with kids still sick read The Help, amazed at Skeeter, and her naivety and strength realizing we are all a lot stronger than we think. And I can't remember the last time I read a complete book that changed me, much less two.
Right now the learning curve is still big, the storms are bigger, but the God who created each is more than able. And for the first time in a long time I am still. Fevers are not gone yet, and sheets are getting washed again as I write this. But in these weeks of stillness I have heard His voice clearer. Praying that you are able to be still today. That the wind and roar of life quiets a moment and that you hear him speak. Gentle and true. And that the next time it storms, you look up and notice the color of the sky, and you hear him in the stillness.
He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down, and it was completely calm. Matthew 4:39