Last night the house shook. We'd had a storm front roll in. It had started with the cold autumn rain, but developed into fat wet snowflakes as the temerature dropped. And before I knew it, my intermittent peeks through the banks of windows at work spoke of the potential yield of a winter wonderland sneaking past fall's visage.
That was still during daylight.
I do recall the sounds of the storm buffeting the house through the night. Still with me are the small sounds--gusts popping on the eaves, sporadic shreiks of wind in the swampcooler, the thump of our metal pumpkin door hanging. But not much prepared me for the paradigm that followed when the door opened to the morning after.
Melissa and I sat together and ate warm cereal for breakfast--she had oatmeal, I grits, our feet stacked up on one another. She summed my feelings perfectly in one succinct sentence. "I'm not ready for winter yet" she'd said. I chuckled and nodded and we ate in the odd morning light streaming through the window, a trillion prisims in our back yard.
I drove in to work, gawking at the transfiguration. The snow had caught most trees unawares, the unwitting still had their leaves, pregnant with fall expectations. They now stooped heavilly and were painfully bent under their load. The tame places so deliberately carved by people were now wild--trimmed trees were overgrown, shrubs now hairy, once gardens now grottoes for sprites. Sidewalks, the classic footprint of man, peeked through the new jungle of growth above them, their fragments of pavement little oases in the creeeping sweep of branches. I pulled into the parking lot of work and gawked. The three closest aisles of parking stalls to the building were at an impasse. Three aisles worth of trees were too stooped with snow to allow my Suburban to park. A few inventive compact drivers had found haven between brances, stalls be damned, but I reversed, and parked several stalls away (it is my usual style anyway). I made my way, still rubbernecking the entire time, an arrow to the glass double-doors and the badge reader that would let me in.
I felt a little juvenile, and smiled at the thought, as I detoured to stoop under the perfect stillness of the loaded-down trees. Their wild tresses swept the ground, and the canopy of leaves felt a cathedral--buttressed, frosted, holy. I stared a moment, under the transfigured fronds. A momentary transmogrifcation, as if the proximity came and took me within it's sanctuary, screen, shelter.
Gifts, I decided then and there, come at us in unexpected ways. They can be quiet, like a still morning of warm cereal and stacked feet. They can be holy, like a moment under a canopy of God's flags and branches. They may even be borne to us on a shreiking wind. But they always seem to require a little detour on our part. A little effort by us to check our speed and stop to really see what God is trying to tell us. Because then He'll speak to us in the most unusual ways.