January did not start easy. First came cleaning up after Christmas. Then came the bitter cold. On top of that, my husband, Dana, has been struggling to move a 4-ton, 24-foot shed. Two years ago, when we bought our house, it was sitting in the dirt beside the driveway, sunken in mud. Battered by rain and wind, it had slipped off its insufficient concrete supports. Tearing the shed down and rebuilding would have been easier. But wanting to save money and materials, we hired an excavator to pull the shed into the middle of our driveway and dig out a foundation, which my husband poured in November. So far, it has been a five-month process. Week after week, as I’ve watched Dana struggle to jack up the shed and secure it with sturdy beams, one song has run through my head.
On a whim, I ran a couple loads of laundry, filled the bathtub and topped my largest kettle with even more water last Sunday night just before going to bed. The following morning, like roughly 400-thousand other Mainers, I awoke to the rush of wind and complete darkness. The fierceness of last week’s storm, known as a ‘bomb cyclone’ — and how long my family would be without electricity (six days!) — caught me largely unprepared.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about light. As the days get shorter and the nights earlier, I am increasingly aware of my need for it. As the light decreases so does my energy. I’m less motivated to head out in the early morning to walk. Come evening, I’d rather stay cozily cooped up inside than gallivant about. And, living in the country means more stars, but it also means it’s harder to see at night. All of this is beyond my control. As the earth journeys around the sun, it limits the amount of light I receive. There is, however, a light that never changes.
Despite having grown up on an organic farm, I’m a gardening hack. My rows are crooked. Clover creeps between the green beans and corn. And a pest has nibbled so many holes through my greens that my Swiss chard looks like Swiss cheese. But the one thing I do know about gardens is that they need a steady source of water. So most bright summer mornings, I dutifully stretch the garden hose from the spigot under my kitchen window, down the dirt driveway and connect it to the sprinkler beside my garden. Then I turn it on.
To mark my first season of observing Lent, I sacrificed breakfasts – a small but daily reminder to set this time apart to focus on Jesus. I share this not to congratulate myself (Monday morning I was so hungry, I ate a buttery English muffin anyway), but to join others of the faith in the weeks leading up to Easter. One hungry morning, I ignored my growling stomach to sit on the couch with my two youngest boys and read the Sharon Creech novel, Love That Dog.