We spent our day picking our way across the state of Vermont to New Hampshire. The flood waters have pretty much receded, but many of the rivers are still muddy and very high, and signs of the damage are everywhere, even though we were careful only to take the roads officially cleared for travel.
What I hadn't realized until we checked into our hotel tonight was that New Hampshire, too, was hard hit: there's a shopping mall near here that was completely devastated; stores are struggling, hoping to re-open before Black Friday -- which seems amazingly far away to me right now.
It's another reminder -- as if we need them at our age -- that life is fragile, and all your plans can go up in smoke in a heartbeat. There has to be more to it than the daily grind, the possessions, the trappings... If spirit isn't flowing through -- even if it's only a trickle, not a rush -- how will we survive the inevitable losses?
I suppose that sounds a little morbid -- perhaps because a friend wrote yesterday to say her daughter had died suddenly and tragically over the weekend. She's the fourth good friend of mine to have lost a child; it's just devastating. I can't help thinking how incredibly lucky we are to still have our girls -- and can't help being a little anxious at the same time.
And so I just tell myself, breathe, release, breathe, release; breathe in the joys of the day and breathe them out again so others less fortunate may sense that uplift in the air. Release the tensions, the worries, the tendency to think ahead to potential losses, or to think back on the struggles of the past. We just have to be grateful for what is, and trust that what's to come will have its own gifts to offer -- whatever they may be. I've watched each of those moms take on amazing challenges in honor of their children, and I'm deeply humbled by their struggles and their faith; a model for us all.