Adam’s Rib

There’s nothing like a little child’s logic to make us revisit entrenched ways of thinking.

When two-and-a-half-year-old Lenora climbed into my lap and asked for a story, I told the familiar creation story from the book of Genesis. “God made the whole beautiful earth,” I said. “Then he took some sticky dirt and made a friend for Himself.”

Lenora cuddled closer. “That was Adam, right?”

“It was,” I said. “Then, because Adam was lonely, God made him fall asleep. He took one of Adam’s ribs, and from it he made a woman.”

My daughter wrinkled her nose. “Yuck.”

I grinned at her expression. “When Adam woke up, he saw the lovely companion God had given him. He called the woman ‘Eve.’ Adam and Eve loved the beautiful garden God made for them. God told them they could eat anything that grew there, all but the fruit from one certain tree. ‘If you eat it,’ God said, ‘you will surely die.’ So they obeyed God and left it alone.”

I lowered my voice to a whisper. “But then, something awful happened.”

Lenora’s eyes grew big. “What happened?” she whispered back.

“Satan, God’s enemy, came sneaking into the garden. He told Eve that God really didn’t mean she would die if she ate the fruit. God just didn’t want her to be as wise as He is. So Eve ate some of the fruit. She gave a piece to Adam, and he ate it, too. Right away, Adam and Eve knew they had disobeyed God. They were ashamed. They hid from Him.”

“Didn’t they know people can’t hide from God?”

“They found that out, didn’t they? God felt very sad, because his friends could no longer stay in the beautiful garden. They had let sin enter the world. Now they would have to work hard to make the earth produce food. There would be murder and stealing and lying among all the people on earth. And worst of all, they would not live forever as God had planned.”

Lenora gave a big sigh. “They should have minded God.”

“Yes,” I agreed. “Adam and Eve had to leave the garden. They had to work very hard. Their first baby grew up to kill his own brother. After a long time, Adam died, and his body turned back into the dust of the earth.”

Lenora pondered this for a while, then looked up.

“And when Eve died, did she turn back into Adam’s rib?”

Courage for Rough Waters

Our friend Ti Foltz likes to walk a beach near his home on Camano Island when life gets tense, just to watch the sunset and rejuvenate his soul.

After a particularly stormy day, weather wise and otherwise, Ti felt an urgency to go to the beach. But a phone call interfered and by the time he could leave, the sun had already dropped behind Whidbey Island. He decided it was too late, but he kept hearing an inner voice nagging him to go anyway.

Finally, he grabbed his jacket and made his way down the trail to Saratoga Passage. The wind pushed high waves and spray toward the shore. Drift logs and debris swirled and banged together in the surf. Ti was all alone on the beach. He’d missed the sunset. He noticed brant and other sea ducks paddling in the calmer water beyond the surf line. They seemed to be finding very little to eat. He watched a single duck swim toward shore, right into the chaotic surf. It dived to escape being crushed between colliding logs, then surfaced with a tender morsel of sand shrimp or crab. Over and over, the duck dived between the crashing logs or under them, each time coming up with something good to eat.

The rough water had stirred up the bottom dwellers, laying a feast for creatures brave enough to risk the dangers. One duck took full advantage of the feast, while the more timid water fowl went hungry. The One who provided for that brave little duck, thought Ti, is the same one who helps us find His riches in the middle of life’s storms.

The Trumpeters

Since my last post, the Stillaguamish flood has begun receding. I’m proud of the way our community worked together to keep water out of Stanwood. Hundreds of students and adults responded when the call went out for volunteer sandbaggers. People are busy cleaning up damaged homes and businesses. After two nights of camping at the high school, Josephine Sunset Home residents are back in their own beds.

I keep remembering a few moments in the midst of the windstorm that followed the flooding. The winds churned the ocean of flood water into waves. Normally, those flooded fields provide grazing grounds for wintering swans from Alaska, both the magnificent trumpeters and the smaller tundra swans. We frequently see them flying from one field to another, often a mated pair accompanied by their family.

I watched a couple of flocks fly close to the bluff, battling north where they’d find open fields. You can’t mistake the trumpeters in flight. They lay those long necks out straight on the air ahead of them, feet tucked into their big bodies, powerful wings beating a slow and undulating rhythm. Unlike the skeins of snow geese, whose gabbling passage is punctuated with excited honks and mutterings, the trumpeters’ flight is regal and silent.

I braced myself against increasing gusts as a line of five swans, wings spreading to seven feet, flew from the south. Wing tip to wing tip, they advanced into the wind, the leader slightly ahead, his mate and children on either side. Although the wind pushed them sideways, they continued to advance, strong wings beating in perfect unison, necks stretched to the north. They passed soundlessly over my head, so close I could see the streaking of damp feathers along their necks and bodies, the shadings in their wings.

The wind carried them eastward, but they persisted. North was where they knew they’d find drier fields and good grazing. Even if the wind blew them off course, it couldn’t prevent them from trying to reach their goal.

I thought about all the people who’d wakened that morning with tasks planned for the day, and who’d found that nature had other plans. I thought about how often the storms of life interfere with the goals I set for myself.

I want to be like the trumpeter swans. I want to just keep going, adapting with God’s help to changing circumstances. He can be trusted to bring my flight to a good conclusion.

Flood of 2009

The eyes of the United States are focused on our corner of Washington state today. After all, how often has all of western Washington been cut off completely from the rest of the country by weather-related phenomenon? Television shows us that all of the mountain passes are blocked by slides or other dangerous conditions. Railroads are shut down by flooding and slides. Interstate 5 is blocked by flooding…for the second year in a row. The only way to get to eastern Washington or to Oregon, this morning at least, is to go by plane.

After our record snows of the past few weeks, the dreaded Pineapple Express arrived. We could see it coming on the satellite weather pictures… a vast curve of thick clouds bearing lots of warm air and moisture. All that rain on all that snow: the recipe for what we’re seeing outside our window. We are lucky. Many people living along those rivers with the musical names: Snohomish, Stillaguamish, Skookumchuck, Chehalis, Snoqualmie and also the Tolt and the Carbon and the Cedar, are seeing up close and personal the power of too much water.

So far, at least, we have telephones and internet…but this afternoon on the heels of the Pineapple Express, came a fierce wind, kicking up waves on the inland sea that now covers the Stillaguamish delta. The tide is high and the wind is blowing salt water from Port Susan Bay up the channel of the Stillaguamish river…a buried river outlined only by the tops of bushes and a few trees growing along the dikes that usually contain it. We can tell it’s there because we can see waves actually pushing the water backward, upstream.

When we looked out this morning, we knew this flood was worse than any we’ve seen in the seven years we have been in Stanwood. We watched the lights of emergency vehicles making their way to some of the homes standing on slightly higher ground in the middle of the ocean. Now the road they followed is under water. Here and there, other barns and farmhouses seem to float like Biblical arks.

Earlier, we saw hovercraft swooping back and forth across the expanse of flooded fields, as if searching for something. When gale force winds hit, we saw what might have brought the rescue boats out…a good sized mobile home half-sunk in the water, bobbing across a field where no house belonged. Helicopters hovered over the area, a big one that could be used to airlift people or even animals to safety and news copters taking pictures or looking for trouble spots. From a friend who lives at one of those marooned farms came telephoned news that all of their vehicles were floating and they were trying frantically to get their cattle to safety.

Stanwood’s schools are closed, because most of the roads are closed. The main highway, 532, between I-5 and Camano Island, forms a barrier between the town and the floodwaters. It is down to one lane while work crews build a dirt berm along its edge, trying to keep water from overtopping it. School kids and adults worked all night filling sandbags to keep water out of buildings.

Josephine Sunset Home, with one hundred fifty residents, has been evacuated. A fleet of city busses brought them and their wheelchairs to an uncomfortable safety at the high school near our home. God bless the staff and volunteers who are doing their best to care for these frail members of our community!

Rain, wind, flooding…today has been anything but boring. Nature topped it all off with a sun break of spectacular proportions. Just as the sun dipped behind the peaks, the Olympic Mountains appeared in the west as though conjured out of the blowing mist by some celestial wizard. As it sank out of sight, the sun brushed the tattered clouds with apricot and magenta, and they in turn flung the colors across the surreal ocean beneath them. I hope the owners of the drowned farms were watching from higher ground somewhere and that those moments of beauty renewed their courage.

Next post: A Lesson from the Trumpeter Swans

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

How many times have we all said these three words in the past few days? We proffer the greeting sincerely. Yet, experience tells us that flipping the calendar to a brand new January can’t guarantee happiness.

Hank and I start the new year, as do most people, with a full bucket of concerns. Will our health hold up? Will our government stand strong and upright in its domestic and international leadership or will greed and selfish ambition sap our country’s strength? Will the declining economy undermine the plans we’ve made for retirement? How will our grandchildren go to college? Will their parents be provided for when they reach their own retirement years?

We also have an overflowing bucket of blessings: a widening circle of friends who truly want the best for us. Family members of all ages to love. A comfortable home, a living church, all the books we can read. Interesting and important work to do and plenty of time for fun. We are continually challenged to learn new things (I couldn’t have imagined myself blogging or even wanting to, at this time last year.)

As year 2009 gets underway, may God help each of us to trust him with our concerns and to praise him for His blessings. May it be a happy year for you!