Squawking from a tribe of geese gliding over the lake surface startles me awake from sleep. When I roll over, I hear Him say, “This is a lesson in letting go.” But He’s not talking about the geese.
Over the past twenty-four hours, we’ve been dumping buckets of lake water into toilets for flushing, cooking eggs on the barbecue and catching mice that scurry among the dirty dishes lining the counter in wait.
We’re a few too many days without a shower.
We scoop bowls of chili by the light of two red pillar candles; wash our hands with wet wipes. When we need milk from the refrigerator we make sure not to leave the door open so long the food will get warm inside.
It’s our vacation.
It makes sense to me now, why I felt so strongly about buying that battery powered lantern at Costco before we left home. When the cashier asked me how I was going to use it, I had no idea it would be our main source of light in the aftermath of a storm.
On our second day at the family cottage in Ontario Canada, I answer the phone hanging on the wall with a towel around me to soak up water droplets cascading from my swimsuit. It’s my uncle, warning us about the storm headed our way in just an hour, in case we were planning to be out in the boat.
Through the kitchen window, I watch kids swim in the lake, a canoe family paddle by, boats pulling tubes of laughing kids in the distance. It’s hard to believe this sunny sky would deceive me.
But the earth’s been holding her breathe so long here, she finally exhales a fury of wind and rain a few hours later. Gales so strong they snap trees like matchsticks, push anchored boats around like toys in a bathtub. The ground becomes a battlefield of sticks raining from branches.
I couldn’t feel more helpless watching it unfold from my spot at that same window.
And I hear him ask me again, “What do you want me to do for you?” the same way he asked me on the dusty road the day before. He shows me through the strength of a storm, the smallness of my eternal expectancy.
Because we can pray for rain, anticipating a drink to satisfy thirsty soil, and forget He holds water in the heavens like a balloon waiting to pop. We can ask for a juicy ribeye to satisfy a craving like the Israelites and get a storm of 105 million quail on the front lawn. (Numbers 11:18-20)
He holds our dreams in the palm of his hand outstretched like this too. Do we dare think our dreams, our prayers, larger than his hands? Or too insignificant to utter?
Hours before the storm, I walked along the Bonnechere River, stood on the shore of mirrored trees and said how good it is to be here, surrounded by what looms larger than me. Remembering that God’s dreams for me, and you, they stand taller than our perspective. And fear keeps life stuck small.
I cannot control the yelp of a flock of geese before the sun sets golden, how fast the wind blows or where it chooses to snap a tree. I don’t determine how or when rain falls, the way sunlight makes a leaf glow. How succulent an ear of corn grows on the stalk or how sweet berries taste on the vine.
A cool breeze kisses my cheeks, head sinks back into the pillow and I do the only thing I can control: pray specific prayers. And while I wait and listen to the silence of letting go, I’m praying that the truth of His words back to me will stick to my feet like yellow pollen falling in spring, leaving an imprint of His glory wherever I go.
“It’s a frightening thing to open oneself to this strange and dark side of the divine; it means letting go of our sane self-control, that control which gives us the illusion of safety. But safety is only an illusion, and letting it go is part of listening to the silence, and to the Spirit.” Madeline L’Engle, Walking on Water