Sunday, August 28, 2011

In the Midst of the Storm

By late morning I heard wheels spinning out in the front yard and then felt my building shake for a few seconds. I bent down to look out my kitchen window and saw a rather tall, middle aged man trying to push his truck out of the mud. He was driving across the lawn and got stuck. "Why is he driving across the lawn?" I wondered aloud. The curiosity drove me to investigate closer. So I grabbed my keys, slipped on my pink crocs and headed down and out into Hurricane Irene. I walked down and to the left and saw almost two feet of water covering the parking lot. "Agh!! Oh, my God!" I gasped. The parking lot was quickly filling. I rushed over, got inside and started my Escape hoping I could some how drive it out before it got worse. There was a black sedan to the left of me, so I could not turn left to pull up onto the pavement and drive over the lawn as the truck did.

By this time the man from the truck and our superintendent were out there. The young girl from upstairs came down to get her vehicle out as well. They began to push her silver toyota up onto the black top path while she steered. They saw me backing up and one called to me, "Don't back up, the exhaust will go under." I stopped. Again and again I blurted aloud, God help me! I don't know what to do!" The guys were able to push the toyota all the way up and the young girl drove across the lawn. I slightly hit the gas and my Escape pulled forward and along side the building as I steered right. All I could see was water surrounding everything. I paused for a second wondering if I should park there as the water was not as deep, but I needed to get out of the parking lot. There was no telling when the water would stop rising or the rain would let up. I continued to steer right hoping to drive up the hill and get out. It stalled and I began to sense the water moving the vehicle. It began to seep in through the edges of the doors and fill the bottom. I was stuck. My vehicle was stuck and I was trapped! "Jesus help me!" I screamed over and over with tears streaming down my face as I panicked. I pushed on my door and it would not open. I began to grab what I could-CD's, first aid kit and insurance papers. The water was now up to my ankles. I rolled down the passenger side window and yelled to the guys on the path, "Help me! I need help." They waded across the three feet of water. When they reached me, the taller guy said, "Put it in neutral." I grabbed the shift and began to pull hard, but it would not move. "I don't know what to do!" I blurted aloud. By now he could see it was in park and said, "Leave it." I pushed on the passenger's side door and it opened. More water came flooding in. With a few items clutched in my left arm, the superintendent reached out his hand to grab my right one and helped me step out. The cold water began to soak the bottom of my gray gym shorts. I stepped away from the vehicle while pushing the door closed.
Pushing one foot in front of the other, I followed the two men as we waded through the flooded parking lot onto the blacktop path. "Thank you for helping," I cried.

The rain continued to pour down drenching my black t-shirt and hair. I began to shiver from the cold air and sheer terror of being engulfed by so much water. I gazed in disbelief at my white escape submerged by more than three feet of water. This was the kind of stuff I've seen on television so many times, not in my own parking lot. I turned away and stammered up to my apartment. What else could I do?

Friday, August 12, 2011

Oh, How They Love!

I'm somewhat torn this evening. I've not had much time to write this month, but have been inspired a few times through God's own amazing creatures. The question for me is which vignette do I share? Perhaps I can bring them together in one piece as a testimony of the great beauty and love that exists in this precious Earth entrusted to us.

With temperatures dropping into the sixties this evening, I ventured out with my friend, Patti to stroll through some of the gardens at a nearby mansion. Brightly colored roses, zinnias, marigolds amongst numerous species of plants decorated the grounds. The air was crisp and dry. "Oh, these are just gorgeous!" Patti exclaimed.

"Look at these. I never knew marigolds could get that big!" I added with delight. We continued to "Ooo!" and "Ahhh!" for another ten minutes before exiting through the gate and returning to the paved road. Canadian geese were scattered everywhere while grazing. "I think they look so elegant with their markings. They're very striking," I remarked.

Patti agreed, "They are."

"Earlier when I went to see my friend Keith I noticed two by the pond near his apartment and one had something wrong with its wing. It was sticking out oddly, but not moving it. Its mate was right beside it. It reminded me of the two drakes and lame hen that visited my sister's yard for bird seed. The drakes would hover around her, keeping watch while she had her fill. My mom told me they will be with her for life," I shared. I could tell by Patti's heartfelt expression that she was equally touched by the example of love and loyalty shown. These creatures don't leave their wounded trailing behind. There is no such concept of survival of the fittest in their repertoire. Which brings me to another amazing creature, the horse.

This past year I read a book entitled, "Hope Rising" by Kim Meeder. For over twenty five years she has been rescuing abused and neglected horses while inviting children and their families that have been equally beat up to come and enjoy learning to care for these animals and how to ride them. The collection of anecdotes inspired me to learn about these massive gentle giants and take some riding lessons from a well respected teacher and trainer nearby.

Three lessons into it and I am hooked! Superstar, a ten year old dark Gelding is still being rehabilitated. When Amy, my instructor got him from the auction he was poorly nourished with scrapes on his face and back. He was on his way to slaughter, but she bought him this past February at the auction. Now I, along with other novices, get to ride him.

Before my riding lesson begins, I spend time grooming him before tacking him up. This past Wednesday, I led him out of his stall for the very first time. He patiently stood in place as I groomed him. His brown eyes were soft and curious. He lifted his head and looked into my eyes while sniffing. I fed him a few carrots and proceeded to brush the side of his neck with the grooming brush. He stood in place without twitching or stomping. I can only gather he enjoyed this part of our time together. When I finished, his dark coat shone brightly and felt as soft as silk. I wrapped my arms around his neck and rubbed my face against his freshly brushed fur while hugging him. He just stood there, letting me embrace him while stroking his black mane.

During the lesson, he walked when I told him to walk and trotted when I told him to trot with only a slight nudge of my heels. Up, down, up, down, I posted around the arena. One time, then a second and finally a third time we circled around the indoor arena. After each lap, all I had to do was say, "Hoe." and he would come to a gentle stop. I did not have to pull back on the reigns at all. Gently and obediently he did whatever I asked.

Amy, my instructor, said, "His mouth is like butter." Nobody knows what he endured or enjoyed before Amy brought him to her barn. However, there's no doubt he is grateful for the care and attention he receives now. He will lovingly follow Amy around the arena unless I steer him otherwise.

Somehow, three ducks, some geese and one rescued Gelding have all touched me through their testimonies of love, loyalty, and endurance. Life has been anything but kind to these creatures and yet they forge onwards and upwards, doing only that which they know how to do. Loving each other and responding to the love shown to them with infinite loyalty.

I've often wondered, "If animals could talk like people do and voice their opinions, what would they say?". Now I don't have to wonder. Their actions say it all-"This is how I love thee in spirit and in truth, standing and walking beside thee in obedience and gratitude."