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Tuesday December 28, 2004: Personal: Weathering Christmas

        I love a holiday celebration with family, but nature presented its own obstacles this year. Yes, it was a white Christmas for Michigan -- very white. The mid to upper parts of Michigan were hit with heavy snows for much of the week before Christmas. My parents planned to leave the island on Monday, travel to Royal Oak (southeast Michigan) to see relatives, and then drive back to my home Wednesday.

        Weather threatened the best laid plans. With predictions of snow all week, my parents called with concerns about making it off the island before Christmas. There was a brief break in the weather Monday; the island airline decided to fly as many planes as they could, filled with whoever showed up at the airfield -- at least for as long as the weather held. Friends of my parents graciously offered their place on the second plane, which ended up being the last plane to make it off the island Monday.

        Arriving on the mainland at 4 p.m., my parents found themselves back in a snow storm, nine inches of snow already on the ground. Plans for Royal Oak were canceled and they called to say they would stay overnight in a local hotel. Depending on weather and road conditions, they would make it to my place by Tuesday night or sometime Wednesday. Another six inches came down overnight; they dug out the car in the morning and headed through more snow storms to lower Michigan. My sister, who lives in Traverse City (western mid-Michigan) had planned to spend Christmas with her in-laws in southwestern Michigan. With new storm-fronts moving across Lake Michigan, she went out and bought food for Christmas dinner, in case they could not travel downstate.

        Here in southeast Michigan, I listened to their phone conversations while looking out over clear roads and brown fields. Our snows were not expected until Wednesday night. The storm front that would immobilize large parts of Ohio and Indiana was moving up from the south and we were warned it would reach into the southeastern parts of Michigan. My parents and my middle son (who finished his college exams) both arrived Tuesday night, exhausted but well before the storm front. My youngest son, who had planned to travel with his father to Florida for Christmas, informed me they had changed plans and would be staying in Cleveland. What a relief to know they would not be driving through the center of the storm.

        I loved having a son to help clear the driveway Thursday morning so I could make it in to the hospital on time. I was grateful for a grandfather who carried jumper-cables and could later start my son's car after it had been sitting for several days in sub-zero weather. I lucked out with the storm itself, which ended mid-day. Before I finished work Thursday night, the roads had once again been cleared. Though one car almost slid through an intersection into my car, I remained in high spirits. One final stop at the store and we were stocked up with enough food to stay comfortably inside all weekend, avoiding the frigid temperatures.

          It ended up that only the older folks stayed housebound. My son and his old high school buddies decided to go sledding in sub-zero weather, two days in a row. I went outside only long enough to restock the bird feeders - definitely too cold for me!! I'm the type who enjoys winter by gazing out over snowy fields from inside a warm house.

         Storms moved in again, south of our area, after everyone left my home Sunday. My son arrived safely at his father's house, though he was slightly unnerved watching a car in front of him do a 360 on an icy stretch near Cleveland. My parents made their half-way stop just past Cincinnati, only to discover the areas farther south were still without power from Wednesday's storm. By Monday night, they called to say they had safely arrived at their summer home and turned up the heat. All turned out well, despite the weather. This Christmas holds the memory of family gathering (which is always a good thing), yet how quickly the house became quiet, and life returned to a familiar routine.

       Yesterday morning, as I drove into work I saw white-laced trees and bushes -- beautiful. I turned on the news, only to be stunned by events of the weekend. Here I am --grateful to have had family for Christmas, to have been safe and warm and well-fed. I think of people in the United States and especially the world, who were not so fortunate.

        Cycles have been set in motion by nature and by mankind this year, have swept through the lives of countless innocent people. My heart opens to their tragedies. Yet, even as I say this, I know the compassion and empathy does not displace the joyous warmth of the good things in my life; it stands side-by-side. For better or worse, I'm convinved that only by accepting both sides of the coin can one see a complete story, can one grasp the fullest meaning of life and of living in this world.

         Does that seem callous? My heart grieves over the tsunami's devastation. I have no idea the full extent of damage and lives lost-- only time will tell. I have already sent a donation and will probably give again.  Yet I also realize how much has changed with my insights into higher dimensions. Always I see the advantage of reaching toward the best, of seeking the highest good for all concerned. Too often the tempation arises to give in to despair when watching world events. I have had to accept that life may waver between the good and bad moments, and though any one lifetime may seem unevenly weighted toward positive or negative events, the universe will eventually seek its own balance.

         In tragedy, people cry out to God; they ask for answers.  I do not believe in a God who sits determining the events of each individual's life, who singles out this person to be saved or that person's life to be cut short. I see reality as cycles set in motion, interconnecting with larger and smaller cycles. In the midst of what we cannot stop or control, we are always left with the power to reach out and support one another. I can only hope the bond of universal brotherhood will fill the end of this year and reach far the next.

Posted on Tuesday, December 28, 2004 at 06:07AM by Registered CommenterThe Skeptical Mystic | Comments1 Comment

Reader Comments (1)

No, it's not callous, although I'm sure some would say so. To me, it's the only way to move forward, embracing life and avoiding being paralyzed by awareness of suffering, or by suffering itself. I'm glad you had a happy and safe Christmas too.
December 28, 2004 | Unregistered Commenterbeth

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