We are back in South Dakota. I wonder if I will ever say I am back home when I arrive in South Dakota. I say it sometimes. Sometimes without thinking, I say I’m going home. Life is ordinary here, even boring. I think that will actually be good for a while.
I had a wonderful send off from my stepfamily. I suppose I should stop calling them that since I have discovered that they are more family than anyone else is. I always wanted sisters. When my mother was married to Murl I felt like I had sisters. My sister Helen said to me after reading my Sounds of Hope blog about Patchwork Intimacy, “Joyce, you don’t have to have the same blood in your veins to be family, do you?” She is right. Families are those people that love you just the way you are. It has little to do with biology.
After a hearty breakfast and two more hours of fellowship, we started the long trek north. My stomach prone to turmoil churned from the results of the last two weeks. The tears expressed and the tears not yet shed seemed at war in my stomach. My stomach settled as the sun began to peak out ever so slightly near Kansas City.
By St. Joseph, the dreaded snow seemed permanent on the ground. After this, we never saw ground without snow, not always deep, but always there. It signaled to me that I was returning to South Dakota, the frozen land. Snow as it falls is beautiful; when it freezes to ice, it permanently locks everything in its frozen shell. I marveled at the thought that the ice will give way to green grass and green stalks of corn.
I saw something I’ve never seen before on this trip. I saw at least 30 hawks. They seemed stationed to watch me as I traveled north. High in the trees or low on a fence post they were vigilant. There was a time I would have tried to make out some meaning to their appearance. Yesterday I just marveled at their number.
I saw something else I’ve never seen before. I saw herds of deer grazing in frozen fields. At first glance I thought it was a herd of cows. As I got closer I knew they were two small to be cows. By the time the sun was setting in marvelous reds, I had passed many fields where deer were foraging for food. Yesterday I saw well over 100 deer in these fields.
This bleak frozen land had more than enough food to feed all of the creation that depended on it. The deer, the hawks as well as the thousands of geese I saw, all had enough food. I suppose they had to look for it, nevertheless, it was there.
I thought this frozen land, that I so dreaded returning to has enough to sustain me as well. I may have to look for it. I may have to look beyond the frozen ground and see that there is enough food to sustain me as well. There will be food for my soul provided by the hand of God. I will look for it. It will sustain me through these last days of winter as the cold of the death experience lays heavily on my soul.
I thought of an obscure verse to an old hymn. I hummed it to myself trying to recall the words. As I did, I recalled its triumph. I have found the Lord and He will feed me.
Feeding on the husks around me,
Till my strength was almost gone,
Longed my soul for something better,
Only still to hunger on.
Hallelujah I have found Him
Whom my soul so long has craved
Jesus satisfies my longing
Through His blood I now am saved.
I remember a Norwegian elder in the church of my childhood breaking into the last verse spontaneously, particularly during communion.
Well of water ever springing
Bread of life so rich and free
Untold wealth that never faileth
My redeemer is to me
Until spring comes, God's provision will be mine.