For most of the week at Lakeshore, we have seen 3 colors: white, grey, and brown. We got the snow that so much of Tennessee saw, and though it got above freezing, the hillsides were shielded enough by the clouds that it lasted until the rains came. There is something very somber and beautiful to walking outside during these times. If you find yourself walking in the woods during this time, you are much more likely to be alone. There are times you might believe you are the only one left on earth during these winter walks. The sound of the railroad in the distance or a plane flying over might convince you otherwise, but if you can shut them out, it becomes a very intimate moment.
The Lakeshore staff had their Christmas party this week down at the Alford Recreation Center. Every staff person and their family came to the event, and Corky cooked steak and chicken with his special sauce and baked sweet potatoes. Everyone else brought pot-luck, and there was definitely plenty left over. When you take everyone on staff and throw in their children or grandchildren, it makes for a large group of people. Allyson and I brought our dog, Digby, and he was a big hit with all the children. We think Martha’s grandchildren may have been plotting to kidnap him, and if they had just had a little more time, we may have seen him lured out to their car with pieces of leftover steak, never to be heard from again.
As I walk to the Conference Center, one of the few constants are the Herons standing just off the shore, looking out onto the river. There is generally one of two, very still, standing watch over our section of the river. If I make enough noise or move fast enough, they make a loud guttural squawk, and float over sky a little farther down, out of my sight. Their color matches the greys of this season, though technically they are blue.
We’ve seen very little of what we’d call a blue sky at camp this week. It has been a very steady grey. It is the color that the sky will no doubt be by about 4:30 regardless of clouds. So, this week has seemed like a perpetual winter sunset throughout the day. You have to look at the clock to be sure of the time this week. The sky is little help. That doesn’t make the sky something you don’t want to admire, though. As I was walking home one evening, and hour or so after the sun had set, I looked across the ridges, to the river, and saw the grey clouds over the river and the hollars. You could see the leafless arms of the deciduous trees and the patches of green where conifer grooves stood. The green was the most vivid color on the map of white, grey, and brown. The wind blew strong that night, and I was glad that I bundled up. As I remember that scene and the feelings I had, I can hear the words of the hymn by one angelic voice:
In the bleak midwinter, frost wind made moan,
earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
in the bleak midwinter, long ago.
Our God, heaven cannot hold him, nor earth sustain;
heaven and earth shall flee away when he comes to reign.
In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed
the Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.
Angels and archangels may have gathered there,
cherubim and seraphim thronged the air;
but his mother only, in her maiden bliss,
worshiped the beloved with a kiss.
What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
if I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
yet what I can I give him: give my heart.
As these days get shorter and shorter, and we see the light of the sun less and less, take comfort in the warmth you have and the promise that the light will return. Merry Christmas to everyone. This week at Lakeshore will be back in two weeks.