Tuesday, February 05, 2008

January thaw (Again) - It's getting to be a Habit

Well it’s actually February -- the remainder of January has flown by.

Our trip to see Kevin was great –despite a few incidents –not the least of which was a 2 hour detour on the trip down due to the highway being flooded. –as I said before rain and major thaws in January wreak havoc in an area that is geared up for snow this time of year.

We had a good visit with Kevin as well as with my sister Ruby and her husband Art – who graciously opened the “inn” to give us a place to stay. My brother Lawrence dropped by for a couple of hours one evening and we also saw my niece Trish – again—She was here over Christmas so it had only been a week since we had seen her. Linda visited with her friend Arlene one morning and we spent Friday evening at with Kevin and his in-laws Bill & Trish at their home –great dinner and nice visit including a viewing of some digital pictures and video clips that Kevin had brought. It was heartwarming to watch Will opening his Christmas presents. Of course it would have been a 1000 times better to have been there!!

When we returned I dived right into teaching the 3rd round of a course on Fridays. It has taken less time to prepare than previously but still has been an extra load that meant something else has to go. Mostly that has been the time I would have spent in ”blogland” both visiting and posting –

A week ago we had another one of the thaw cycles and over the weekend it was mild, the snow was melting, the roads were bare and it looked like spring. Tuesday was drizzling a bit and had started to rain when a major winter storm swept in. We had high winds, lots of snow and the city was completely shutdown for the day. The most snow I’d seen at one time since 1995-96 when we had record snowfalls – but the wind was the most severe I can ever recall. Gusts up to120kph (70 mph) - knocked down trees, damaged (and broke off) traffic signals, a number of major power outages and highways in all directions closed. I was glad to be able to just sit inside and watch it all unfold.

Tuesday we had helped Paul & Michelle move to a new apartment and we were saying prayers of thanksgiving that the storm didn’t arrive that day--

We have had another thawing trend this week— but it snowed last night unlike the rain that was being forecast just south of us.

I was saying to a friend last week that I rather missed the days when we had winter – once!! – even if it lasted 4 or 5 months it was easier to deal with than instead of 5 or six winters which is what it seems like with these freeze – thaw cycles.

But one thing that seems clear about weather in Sault Ste. Marie is that there is no normal weather – it is different every year -- It is unusually cold or unusually mild or we have unusually heavy show or an unusual absence of snow. This year we have had unusual extremes setting records on the warm side and on the winter storm side.

The weather this year has me thinking that these cycles are a metaphor for life.

(As hard as it will be for some of you to believe :) :) ) I have some bad habits – character issues that I struggle with – perhaps by the world’s standard’s they might be seen as minor but to me they have always been a source of frustration.

One of those is my tendency to get overly preoccupied with a specific task and ignore everything that is going on around me. And even if I am interrupted and start to do something else, I easily drift back to thinking about that “one thing” (Now I’ve said it is a “bad habit” even though in many situations this ability to focus can be a good thing – but it is bad when it goes to the extreme of shutting out important things that need attention – for example if it happens when I’m driving – and it has!!).

The area where this has the most impact is when it drifts into my communications with Linda. It is very hurtful to her if she is trying to communicate with me and I seem oblivious to her or if I have started listening and then “drifted away” – I suspect that there are other wives out there who can relate to this.

Over the years I have applied a number of “strategies” to avoid having this tendency cause a (temporary)breakdown in our communications. For example, when I was working, if Linda called I had to either stand up or turn my chair in the opposite direction so I wouldn’t try to keep on working while talking to her.

One thing is certain is that ultimately love does "conquer all" because we always work our way through these things – but knowing that doesn’t make the pain any less real when it happens. I guess it’s (somewhat) like knowing that you will get past this storm but you still have to shovel the snow!!

Working at home has created new challenges in this area of "listening" but we have worked out some things that generally keep me “present” when we are talking.

So what does this have to do with the cycles in the weather? Well despite knowing that this can happen and despite having proven ways of preventing it – it always seems to go in cycles.

I suppose in some small way I can understand the problem of addiction. You find a way to stop – to break the habit and things re going fine but you get overconfident or lazy or whatever and start to ”push the limit” – and all of a sudden it happens again as it did this past weekend.

As I was praying about this (again) it occurred to me that this was a small reflection of the general situation of the human condition in our relationship with God that Paul wrote about in Romans 7:17-25 (The message)

"But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can't keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don't have what it takes. I can will it, but I can't do it. I decide to do good, but I don't really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time.
It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge.
I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different."

This “cycle of failure” to do what I know needs to be done is, of course the reason why I need Jesus to act as a mediator in my relationship with God.

However, if this principle of "doing what we don't want to do" applies in our relationship with God , it also seems to apply to our relationships with each other. I am blessed with a loving partner who always (eventually) foregives and in the long haul our relationship is likely made stronger .

BUT as Paul also said earlier in Romans 6:1 we can’t use God’s grace as a rationalization for not caring about our failures – (So what do we do? Keep on sinning so God can keep on forgiving? I should hope not!) (The Message).

God still holds us accountable and expects repentance and I thank God that he also gave me a partner who extend grace in our relationship but also loves me enough to hold me accountable and to expect change.

So I can’t rationalize it and just say that’s the way it is – I need one more time to seek away to break the cycle.

I sometimes wonder why God doesn’t just “take this away” – but I wonder if this may be one of those ”thorns in the flesh” that are needed to continually remind me not only of God’s grace which is sufficient but also of the grace extended daily by a loving partner.

Well - moving on; Only one thing to share about my “virtual reality” visits – My friend John Dobbs and his lovely wife Maggie have said goodbye to the church n Pascagoula and headed to Forsythe (Monroe) Louisiana. I wish him God’s richest blessings in thisnew work. You can read all abut it on his “Out here hope remains” blog (http://johndobbs.wordpress.com/).

Thanks to Dee and Wilma who have recently commented about the gaps in my posts. I hope that there will be more time in the next month for”surfing the net” andbeing moreregualr with my posts. -- time will tell.

Linda is getting cabin fever and with my course wrapping up in 2 weeks we are looking to “hit the road”. But we have n’t really figured out where we want to go – so far there hasn’t been any “Macedonian call” –similar to 2 years ago when we felt compelled to make our “Katrina” trip.

God Bless


JD said...

Thanks for the mention, Charlie. I always enjoy your posts.

Dee Andrews said...


I've been checking in on you and have read this post several times, but am just now commenting.

Hope you and your wife are doing well TODAY!

Much love, Charlie!


P. S. Drop by when you have the time!