Friday, 20 December 2013

Shhhh! by Susan L.

  There's an anticipatory quality to the air outside. It's still and calm, the sky is an ominous dark gray. Nature is waiting with bated breath for the forecasted snow storm we're supposed to get over the next twenty-four hours. A few damp snowflakes have fallen sporadically; a winter practice run.
  I lived on a farm in the latter years of my marriage. It helped me develop a sensitivity to the weather. A couple of old-time farmers shared their own proven weather lore with me. I hated seeing winter sun dogs, those rainbow like reflections on either side of the sun. When it looked like there was three suns in the eastern sky it meant there was going to be a ton snow. Summer wisdom was part of it too, particularly important during hay season: no dew in the morning meant rain by nightfall. It meant busting a hump to get the hay in before the rain came.
  I always did a barn check before turning into bed just to make sure everything was okay. The only night I didn't was Christmas Eve. This was an Irish tradition my ex was adamant in following. I think it was the only tradition that didn't involve alcohol. I wasn't allowed to go to the barn because the animals were praying on that very special night.
  Other nights I had often stood in the barn enjoying the peace of the animals at rest: cattle, sheep, goats all peacefully chewing their cuds after dinner.  Even if there was a raging blizzard outside, inside the old bank barn was another world. The animals' warm breath would steam and swirl slowly upwards before vanishing into the rafters. The few barn cats would be puddled in a heap with the young goats in order to stay warm. We had a pair of Welsh Black pigs that would tuck in under a mountain of straw. Both of those ladies snored like thunder.
   It wasn't hard to imagine the animals praying. I had seen them at rest often enough.
  Around that time in my life was when I began to wish for Something more. Most of all I wished with all my heart that I could truly believe it was real, that God was there, listening to the animals.
  The best thing? Now I know it is and He was. He even heard me.
  "Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. for there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Lk 2:10-11

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