Unusually cold temperatures have at first fascinated us with snowfall in our backyards and finally frustrated us with hazardous ice on our roadways.

I suspect many people will be relieved when warmer temperatures bring us back to the usual winter weather of the last few years.

My ordeal with snowy conditions began right after Christmas.

My wife and I took the last week of last year as vacation, and headed for our cabin in the North Cascades. Despite the heightened activity around shopping malls in Tacoma, Seattle and Everett, Wash., we made our way to Mount Vernon with little difficulty or delay.

We stopped to fill our Explorer with gas and our stomachs with food before we headed up the two-lane road to our turnoff. No sooner did we leave Mount Vernon than we hit light snowfall that gradually became heavier as we gained elevation.

Soon our visibility was so poor both Jeanne and I rolled down our side windows and stuck our heads out to locate the markers on each side of the road. The embankment down to the Skagit River was steep enough to give us reason to worry, so I slowed down as we navigated the crude and old-fashioned way. Rarely did we meet traffic from either direction, reminding both of us there was good reason to stay off roads and out of automobiles on this particular night.

We arrived at "Rich's Roost" deep both in snow and in darkness. I told my wife to remain in the car while I turned on the water and connected the electricity by flashlight. Ordinarily the task of unloading the car and carrying food and gear up to where my wife stood in the lit doorway could be work, but our black Lab, Calvin, was having so much fun playing in the snow I could not help but to laugh frequently.

He takes to water in any form naturally, so as I trudged the distance between car and cabin my dog spun and leaped and burrowed and ran in what he welcomed as a wonderful white plaything. I was reminded of Charles Schulz' Snoopy, who also used to leap and to spin and to sing, "To live is to dance, and to dance is to live!"

Once all of us were settled inside our roost and a wood fire was burning well in the stove, I began to wonder as I sipped the cup of hot tea my wife handed me. It may have been appropriate for me to worry about heavy snowfall on our drive up, but why couldn't I make the transition to enjoying snowfall once we arrived safely? Calvin did.

The very next day Jeanne and I planned to go snowshoeing. I asked myself, where does delight in life become a burden to be endured? After all, Jesus once taught his disciples, "I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest." (John 10:10.) Didn't he also advise those who would listen to him, "I tell you not to worry about your life. ... Can worry make you live longer? ... Don't worry about tomorrow. It will take care of itself. You have enough to worry about today." (Luke 6:25,27,34.)

When I paged through my Bible to find the passages I had recalled, I also found this fitting conclusion: "Don't worry and ask yourselves, 'Will we have anything to eat? Will we have anything to drink? Will we have any clothes to wear?' Only people who don't know God are always worrying about such things.

"Your father in heaven knows that you need all of these. But more than anything else, put God's work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well." (Luke 6:31-33).

Maybe I had put the cart before the horse, or I had put our drive before even more important priorities.

Is it possible to live sensibly in trying to maintain my life and focusing on it so carefully that I lose my sensitivity to life in its fullest? If so, God, help me find a better balance between life in my own hands and life from yours!

Doug Rich is the pastor of Pioneer Presbyterian Church in Clatsop Plains


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