Friday, August 19, 2022

A strange gift

Because of the darkness, we see the light more clearly. After some difficult challenges this week, I had a dear friend (whom I consider a brother) remind me of this fact. To see the beautiful things more profoundly because we have known and lived through that which is horrific... that is a gift. 

Two days ago I was attempting to make a repair to the wall of the canyon that has been dug into our property. There was no rain, and there were almost no clouds. I was standing in a 4.5' deep crevice stacking sandbags and reinforcing with wire. Suddenly, Kaysee frantically shouted, "Get out!". I didn't pause to see why, but instinctively jumped out. Within 2 seconds a wall of water poured into the ditch where I had been working. It had silently come from the mountains above and descended upon us unnoticed. Truly terrifying. 

Later that afternoon, the rains did come and we got the worst storm we have had. The river behind the A-frame was a force to be reckoned with. It started to breach underneath the Jersey barrier, but Madigan and I were able to reinforce it with sandbags. Because of the amount coming underneath the walls, the water still swept about 12 inches high on the side of the house. But, by keeping the barrier in place, the house never felt the brunt of the force. Once the waters subsided, friends and family came, spent several hours and helped us build a wall at the base of the barrier using no-climb horse wire (very strong), sandbags and clips. So, now water is unlikely to be able to go underneath the wall. 

We have an absolutely huge canyon in our 2.5 acre pasture. It was eroded away in a matter of hours. It has started to threaten a couple of our huge pine trees as well as our barn. We also were able to build a barrier inside the wash to try to reinforce the side wall in an effort to prevent further erosion that will threaten the trees. We don't yet know if it will work given the volume of water that will likely rush through there, but it is the best chance those trees have. 

I woke up at 2:00 this morning and wrote the paragraphs above. I was having trouble sleeping and when I finished writing I looked out into the darkness which still had not welcomed in the morning light and I felt peace. I don't know that we will ever have the answers that we long for, the reasons for the suffering, the justification for the pain. But, I do know that our grief can be healed (albeit slowly) through time, with the renewal of hope, with love that is found in unexpected places and with what we give of ourselves to the benefit of others. I know - because I have experienced it - that beauty can be more abundant than we can actually fathom because we have known darkness and we have done what is impossible. I think sometime we are given the impossible to open our eyes that we might see and more than survive. 

Dad texted me late this afternoon with the message, "Your tree is free!" The Forest Service opened that part of our forest, almost 2 months earlier than predicted. As we drove out to see my hill, my tree, Declan said, "Mom, I'm shaking, I'm so excited for you." I was shaking too. In these past months of agony, fear, uncertainty, and it's fair share of horror, I have longed for "my place" to go cry, reconnect with what is real and beautiful and re-find what I lose in the darkness. I thought my heart would burst for the happiness that filled in those hollow places today. My objectivity on the matter is probably obliterated, but I will tell you that the beauty of that place was more magnificent and overwhelming today than I have ever seen it before. I do not believe another place on this earth could have been more beautiful to me. The darkness does show us the light all the more clearly. The pain reveals to us the joy in it's stark contrast. The painter paints and we are given new eyes to see. 

My first view of my hill...

What a gift! 

The scars on the hills are still fresh. Yet, new life was abundant and breathtaking.

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