My walk with you this week took place on Tuesday morning. So, we are going back in time to visit with each other.
It’s Tuesday morning, and I am sitting in my truck in a parking lot waiting for Dale to return from her hair appointment. A gentle snow is falling, and my truck is facing a wooded area. It may sound strange, but I love wintertime and especially to be surrounded by snow flurries. How beautiful are the woods before me. I do not even mind a blizzard as long as I am home and do not have an outside obligation.
When it is furiously snowing, I recall the story of my Aunt Mildred in Barrington, New Hampshire. Aunt Mildred and Uncle Warren managed my grandfather’s farm. Their home was located quite a far way behind the main farmhouse, and the barn was even further away. As there were several cows in the barn, they had to be taken care of and fed even during a blizzard. At the time, Aunt Mildred was home alone so she bundled up in warm clothes and began her journey to the barn. As she walked, she became more and more concerned for the snow was blinding her and was even obscuring nearby objects. As she stumbled forward, she wondered if she made it to the barn, how she would be able to find her way home. How frightening that must have been.
Aunt Mildred was a woman of faith, and I am sure she breathed may prayers to God as she walked. And upon her return home, there is no doubt she would have offered praise to God for keeping her safe from harm.
There are stories of people in the Midwest tying ropes around their waists as they walked through a blizzard to feed the animals in their barns so that they were able to find their way back to the warmth of their homes again. There, too, I am sure there was a turning to God for help in the time of winter cold and snow.
Snowstorms can indeed be dangerous, but if you are safe and warm, then how beautiful is a snow scene in New England. There is a dirt road near our home called Old Stagecoach Road. It is a short but ever so beautiful a road to travel. There is a favorite spot on that road just as you come down a steep hill. It is a huge pine forest – or a forest of huge pine trees. I love to stop my truck at that spot and just peer into the deep, dark woods. Sitting there for a while, there is such a closeness to God. How beautiful is God’s world! As I look upon that magical scene, the words of Robert Frost come to me – “Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village though. He will not see me stopping here to watch his woods fill up with snow.”
How I love that poem, Stopping at the Woods on A snowy Evening. At age eighty- six, an age I never dreamt I would see, I am here and have a wonderful wife to share my life. At my age I still feel, “I have miles to go before I sleep, I have miles to go before I sleep.” Only my loving God knows that time.
Sunday is Valentine’s Day, and I hope you have (or once had) a special valentine in your life. Years ago, in elementary school, we brought valentines for every child in our grade and for our teacher too. There were some kids you did not like, some you did not want to especially give a valentine to, but it was required that all pupils be included. All in that classroom would receive a card of caring and love. That is the way our society should be as adults as well.
We are all God’s children, living here in God’s created world. We are surrounded by beauty, but all called to a challenge. That challenge is to leave this world better than we found it. In recent times it appears that many people in our nation do not feel that we have made progress as the years have gone by. At my age and seeing so many changes, I really do believe we are a better people than we once were even though we still have a long way to progress in kindness and love for others.
During my lifetime, we were involved in the Second World War. When that war was over, our country did not ask for reparations from those we had conquered – rather we helped to rebuild Germany and Japan. We cared for our enemy. Our environment is healthier. Our polluted streams have fish living in them again. We have learned not to use our waters as a way to dispose of chemicals and pollutants. Our elderly and disabled now have access to public buildings and transportation. How much at my age I appreciate that blessing. Growing up I was taught I could become president of our country – that was something a person of color might not have thought possible – but we have now had a president who was black. That’s progress. Women now have a much wider role in our society. Since the end of the last World War, women are in all fields of work, business, law, government, and, yes, someday we will have a woman for our President.
The world we live in today has removed so many of the prejudices that were present when I was a boy. There was a time when the Irish, the Italians, other ethnic groups and even religions were mocked. The vast majority of our people no longer hold those points of view. We have become a much better people. We are still the nation people wish to flee to for we are a land of opportunity and promise. People press upon our borders hoping to become a part of the United States.
We are a nation under God – and God has blessed us. We may still have a long road to travel – but let us look at the progress we have made and not condemn what has built this nation to its greatness. Look back in favor upon our history of progress and upon those who founded this nation as a nation of the people and for the people. – one nation under God. May we look to the future with promise and hope – with God’s blessing and strength we will become even a more perfect union.
The grateful pastor who writes this walk is proud of his country and of its people and of the progress in equality it has made and will continue to make.
“And may the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other. Amen.”