Snow came to the shore early this week, followed by sunshine and moderate temperatures. Nature is playing with our emotions. It is funny to see all the comments that inevitably show up due to weather like this. Some love the snow, some hate it. Some have only to stay home on this particular day and enjoy it from the window. Others must drive through it and deal with the wet socks that may follow. Children rejoice, hoping that they might get an extra reprieve from school to go with the Thanksgiving break. Others question their sanity and wonder what is happening in a world of snow in Tennessee in November. It’s funny how a little slushy snow on the ground can bring out such a variety of emotions. Quite a polarizing issue (See what I did there?).
Vickie had to break up a fight early this week over food. It was snake feeding day, and one of our corn snakes seemed to want both mice to itself. Vickie found them wrapped around each other striking for the mouse that one had already begun to swallow. Try to wrap your head around this image for just a second. Vickie, of course, did not want to let them keep fighting, but also did not want to get in the middle of a snake fight, so she had to have her wits about her. She grabbed two pencils and proceeded to separate the snakes as if she was chop-sticking some Lo Mein off the Chinese buffet. She managed to pry them apart, and, as far as we can tell, they’ve made their peace and are using each other for warmth again, as was the case before the mice entered the picture.
There are many things that have divided living things since the beginning of time. Sometimes, you’re just afraid, and it’s easier to protect yourself than others. Adam certainly knew that as he threw Eve under the bus for the whole tree of knowledge thing. Or maybe you look over at your neighbor and you see that they have something you want for yourself, and you want it so bad, you don’t mind hurting them to get it. Just ask our corn snakes about that. There are so many more reasons for us to turn on each other, and we watch it happen every day.
Earlier this week, the staff was at the Conference Center decorating for Christmas and Culture Day, and I had to take my dog, Digby, out for a bathroom break. I heard a bird sound that was not as typical as the rest, and I knew what it was. I looked up to the sky and did not see it for a moment, but then my eyes fixed on two eagles circling in the sky together. I called Vickie out, and we watched from the flower bed. The birds flew in a circle, and stayed in the opening of the tree canopy right above the parking lot. They were up hundreds of feet above us, gliding with such ease together. Their eyesight is about 4 times better than ours, so I’m sure they could see us so impressed by them.
We have been decorating the Conference Center for our annual Christmas and Culture Day. So, for an entire week it has been like that day your family drags out the boxes from the attic and unpacks all the ornaments, only on a much larger scale. Our culture this year is Mexico, so we have been placing poinsettias and pinatas, listening to mariachi, and preparing tamales while getting into the Christmas spirit.
Towards the end of each day, the sun has set around 4:30pm, as we are trying to wrap up our decorating. We will walk to the sunroom together and look out over the river to see the sky turned orange, pink, and purple. The river reflects these colors, and so all but the trees surrounding our windows seem to be bathed in these colors as light leaves us for another day. When you stand there with your co-workers, still for the moment, admiring the beauty that God can conjure up in a few early evening moments, it gives you some hope that those divisive things that will inevitably creep into our lives are not enough to counteract moments like these. We know there will be times that we are hurt or scared or hungry, and that we may lash out to one another, because we are weak. But, during this time of reflection, I hope those moments are balanced by the moments we fly high in the sky together in circles–in that sky so beautiful lit up by a light that gives life to us all.
After our Christmas and Culture Day celebration, Lakeshore will go into hibernation for a few weeks. We will be working to get things ready for the new year, including retreat and summer camp dates and a new website. We pray for you this holiday season.