August 29, 2011

An Unexpected Gift

A crew from Calvary, Ashland, Ky., was supposed to be rolling in late last night, weary but exhilarated from a train trip to Washington, D.C., part pilgrimage to the National Cathedral, part journey on historic rail cars.

But first there was an earthquake, and then a hurricane named Irene. What’s next? Locusts?

So the trip was cancelled, and suddenly, unexpectedly, we had the gift of an unscheduled, uncommitted weekend. I can’t remember the last time that’s happened.

We didn’t clean out the garage or prep for next weekend’s yard sale. We didn’t sand the doorframe, which has lingered on the honey-do list since our son was in diapers.

We just spent time with each other and with family and friends. My husband enjoyed the pleasant weather on Friday for a hike in a nearby state park. I caught a movie with a woman who moved into town 10 days ago and visited the church for the first time on Sunday. We ate pirate-themed cake at a party for a 5-year-old – and princess cake the next afternoon for our 3-year-old goddaughter. During worship – a three-parish picnic on a small lake – we sat together. I can’t remember the last time that’s happened.

For dinner, we grabbed grilled cheese and piled on the couch to watch the Disney channel, and before bedtime, we played with a new train set. It wasn’t a weekend to make the Christmas letter, but it was perfect in so many ways. And I can’t remember the last time that’s happened.

Don’t get me wrong: I know we were blessed in Ohio to be well out of the way of both weather events, and those of you on the east coast have been in my prayers and thoughts. Our inconvenience of a cancelled trip doesn’t compare.

But I wonder if there might be unexpected gifts even for those bailing out from the storm. A neighbor who lends a hand. A night without electricity, absent the demands of being plugged-in and on. A weekend of people worrying about each other, praying for each other. Maybe even a small spike of Hurricane Irene babies in nine months or so. Who -- but God -- knows?