I was looking at the snow outside today, and listening as various pundits spoke of the weather. Mostly they complained that the great “snowmaggedon” did not materialize (except for the people who were hit pretty hard in Maine and areas like that) and that it had cost cities millions, perhaps billions, for the waste of a snow day that did not happen. Now if the 9″ of snow New York City received would have happened in Los Angeles, they would have been glad the city had shut down. But the mayor closed the city – no buses, no trains, nothing open. And they complained about their paltry 9″ of snow.
We had similar warnings up here, albeit a little earlier in the week. They told us last Thursday that we needed to be prepared for 12″ overnight and to stock up. My husband was flying in on Friday from a week away and he tried to change his flight schedule, hoping to avoid the snowfall. He could not change his flights, so we just prayed he could get home. I took the warnings seriously, seeing as how I am a transplanted Washingtonian and Californian. I wasn’t sure what could happen. Once in Washington, sections of the greater Seattle area were without power for almost a week. Trees were down, frost and snow was everywhere. People – and this is the truth – were snow skiing down some of the streets in Seattle. If you did not know this, Seattle is a lot like San Francisco – very hilly. It is built on the side of hills surrounding the Sound and is home to many shipping lines – luxury and corporate. It is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever lived in and I miss it very much. But for that storm, I was completely unprepared. Luckily, we were able to get to the store, but I could not get home because my car was even unprepared for that storm. We actually got stuck on the side of a hill and luckily some wonderful strangers helped us get home. This time, I went out driving on my studded tires, prepared with coats and gloves, and went grocery shopping. There were not as many people shopping as I thought there would be, but for mid-day on a Thursday before a big snow storm, there were quite a few people. I was able to park two spots away from the de-iced sidewalk and was very happy.
After I got home and was putting away my “storm necessities,” I realized that my list was sort of silly. I realized I already had a bag of potatoes, but brought home another one. I remember thinking of all the things you can make with a potato – if you have heat and a potato, you have a meal. Up here, if the power goes out, keeping things cold is not an issue. We’ve recently been experiencing a lot of minus-temperature days. So I knew my frozen items could just be placed on our deck in the snow if the power went out. Fresh items I could keep in the house, and canned goods were safe, too. We have firewood, so heat would be okay. I also have lots of candles, just in case. I felt pretty stocked up. And we got about 6″ of snow. No big deal at all. In fact, I picked up my husband and we all went out to dinner and watched the snow falling. It was beautiful, I must say. After a while, we realized we should probably get home in case the highway was rough, but our fears were unfounded.
And then I started thinking about what people grab when an emergency is pending. Today on the TV they were talking about how all the soup was gone, all the shampoo was bought out, and lots and lots of booze was gone. The weird things people grab when they think they will loose power or get stuck indoors for days on end! And they’ve been running ads on the dangers of using damp wood in your wood stove, and to only buy wood from people who show you the dampness level in the wood (who knew?). Another reason we store ours in our heated garage. But what do you take or bring home when a disaster is coming? For people who experience an earthquake, there is no preparation ahead of time; it just happens. Of course, all the safety experts tell us to prepare ahead of time for any of these disasters. Are you prepared?
As funny as this may sound, I am unsettled, and feel unprepared for any sort of storm or disaster, because one of the things that is not taken care of is our house has not been formally blessed, yet. We’ve scheduled it and things have come up. We’re going on two years without a blessing. Do people prepare their homes for disaster? We make sure our insulation is good; we make sure our different sorts of alarms are working; we make sure our windows seal out the cold, but do we make sure God is at the center of all of it? Do we have our priest/pastor come over and pray over us and our homes? Do we expel evil through prayer, asking the Lord to be in the walls, a protective roof over our heads? Do we allow all the evil and ill will to come into our homes with no protection?
Think about what sounds and images can come into our homes, inadvertently as it may occur. We watched a movie last night that we had seen at the theatre. We remembered being bowled over by the story line and exhausted as we left the theatre. and sad at the horrors of war it portrayed. So when it came out on DVD, we got it (what was I thinking, I think now). I made lasagna and garlic bread and we prayed over our food and sat down to watch as we ate. Fairly soon, my husband and I started to exchange looks. I did not remember the vast amount of profanity in this movie. I actually googled it during the movie itself, and the “F” word was used more than 108 times. And I was deeply bothered by it. I looked around at our icons and the crosses on our walls, and I was ashamed, as well. Why did I expose myself and my family to this sort of entertainment? How did I shield my family from it? Well, there was no blessing in my home to thwart evil. I silently prayed that God would place a mantel of protection over us and help dispel the evil I felt encroached into our home by the use of so many horrid words.
How do we prepare for the horrors in this world that may visit our homes? What if war were to break out in the USA? Are we prepared to thwart evil? Can we subsist in our homes, huddled against encroaching evil? If we think about all the things we struggle with in terms of an actual battle, perhaps we can take it more seriously. Perhaps having our house blessed will prepare us inwardly from outward manifestations of evil around us. Decorating each room with a cross or icon, or other symbol of our faith can give us comfort. I love just looking around and being able to know I am a child of God, no matter which room I am in. Even laundry rooms and garages can be dedicated to God. I have icons in my kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, office area, even on a flag flying outside my house (one of those garden flags). I try to live my faith in everything I do. I try to be prepared by having that “extra bag of potatoes” in my life wherever I happen to be. I wear a prayer bracelet and some sort of cross daily. I arm myself.
My mother-in-law always had music in her home and it was always religious, Christian music. I once asked her why she always played that particular type of music. Her response to me was that she was such a weak-minded person and poor Christian, she needed it around her all the time so she could keep trying. I was humbled and embarrassed. I wanted country music at the time. I now prefer Christian rock music, for the same reason. There are “snowmaggedons” preparing to dump on us from all sides, at all times. As I age, I realize it more and more profoundly. And I pray people will become aware of the need to prepare for eternity as eagerly as they prepare for a storm, as eagerly as they rush out and buy the most recently released DVD, without stopping to think what they are bringing into their home, and into their refuge.
Should everyone prepare for a storm? Of course we should. One of these times the meteorologists and TV weather people will get it right and we’ll be glad we were ready. Should we have our homes blessed? Of course we should. If you are not Catholic or Orthodox and don’t have a priest handy, you can certainly go through your house, rebuking evil and welcoming God to reside there with you. We who practice Catholicism or Orthodoxy, are endowed with Holy Water and Holy Oil and some amazing prayers to bless our homes with (I touched on this in an earlier blog…you can look back and read them) and it feels amazing when you have your home blessed; you feel so much more settled and safe. Should we prepare our hearts and souls for eternity? By every means necessary. We will all face our personal Armageddon when we pass from this life to the next, and being prepared takes so much of the fear out of it. God will be waiting for us, with open arms, welcoming us into our eternity. We need to take a step each day, to prepare for eternity. As a beloved priest once told me, “We are not guaranteed our next breath.”
As I age, I feel the weather more deeply in my bones. I really hate the seasons changing, because I usually ache with the changing pressures. I love the seasons, but my body lets me know when these storms are coming. Impending rain storms are particularly noticeable. And my heart tells me more and more that my days are numbered on this earth. Being prepared means being faithful to my beliefs and the practices of my faith. I also need to remain vigilant “against the wickedness and snares of the devil.” We all have a choice in all of these matters. Preparation is key to facing them.