From the Pastor’s Desk: February, 2007
In central Pennsylvania, the Susquehanna River north of Harrisburg runs south between a series of high foothills. The river cuts a winding valley, bluffs on either side. Each succeeding bend reveals beautiful views of long ridges receding in the distance. If one happens to be driving northwest along the river, the sunset is glorious. Red evening light dances on the bare trees. Coal black rocks dusted with snow turn bright gold. I happened to be driving that way last week, on one leg of my journey, when in the distance, up river, I saw dark hanging clouds, blowing south, at a fast clip, the kind you worry about when you see them hovering on the horizon, up here, across the bay. It had all the look of an approaching thunder storm, but we are in the middle of a cold snap, and I realized what was approaching was a snow storm, one of those strange and sudden squalls that can turn dangerous for those of us so foolish as to be driving on a narrow road by a rushing river in the dead of winter.
Within half-an-hour, I and the few other unlucky people traveling were in the middle of a white out. The wind drove the snow across the road in every direction, buffeting my little PT Cruiser. I was the first in a line of perhaps eight cars. We had all turned on our storm headlights in order to see well. I couldn’t see farther than a few feet, and gradually reduced my speed until we were crawling along at about 10 miles an hour. There was no chance of stopping. There was no place to stop: the shoulders dropped away into darkness, and a mountain of rock rose on one side of the road. Time slowed, the intensity of the wind increased. We passed over a bridge crossing the river. Unable to see anything, I could tell it was a bridge from the sound and feel of the road. For once, when driving, I was truly afraid. I was alone, it was dangerous, and cars were following me. I thought about stopping again, even though that was more dangerous than driving.
And then I remembered I was a pastor. And all those people behind me were trusting me not to mess up on the road, because then they would have an accident, too. I had to keep going, though I could only see the road dimly, no matter how bad the storm was. Just then, in the far west, the wind blew apart the veil of the clouds. The sun had long set, but there, still in the sky, was the Evening Star, the only star in sight, shining brightly for only a moment. The clouds closed again. But it was enough to know that ahead, the storm was coming to an end. We only had to make it around a few more curves, and the snow stopped.
It is Epiphany, season of light. May Christ’s star shine brightly in every darkness, at every turn, and guide us all safely home.
Blessings and peace, Pastor Anne