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The Sights and Sounds of a Sabbath Day

I sit now and stare at the trees. Their bent and broken shapes are sure to last, reshaping their setting against a sky that is sometimes blue, sometimes gray. They will remind me, I am sure, of the sabbath day that was forced upon us, and also of the way they make a metaphor for life.

I am always intrigued by the stark and random designs these limbs create, and never more so than a recent Sunday morning.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” /> 
Sometime the night before, what began as rain became ice, and then the ice was overlaid with snow. By the time I looked upon them as the day began to dawn, these elements had laden the limbs with a weight they could not bear.  
Limbs that once reached to the sky, patiently awaiting the fresh green garb of spring, now were bending to the earth, seeking some respite from the stress that had come unbidden upon them. 
How so like life! 
As was the ice-caked branch, square in the center of the walnut row, whose free fall had been interrupted by the high-strung lines that carry power to every home up and down the street, adding our names to the 50,000 folks without heat, light or electricity.  

So it was that the routines of our home reverted to those of ancestors who first settled these lots along the South Elkhorn Creek. 
No less than 20 Christmas candles still sat around the house, and these we lit.
The fireplace we had never used suddenly became our only source of heat. Less than a month ago and entirely on a whim, my wife had called to have it cleaned.  
I took a hatchet from the garage and gathered up the leftover scraps of a deck repair job and stoked a blaze. For the better part of two days I ripped planking into kindling and supplemented it from the stack of firewood proffered by my neighbor (who had taken his family of five to the comfort of a home yet untouched by the storm). 
There was no sound: no television, no video recorder, no compact disc player, not even a radio (as we were caught without the batteries we needed).  
In the stillness, we could hear the groaning as the wind blew through the trees. Now and again, this added strain caused the inevitable crack of limbs and the swoosh of a thousand crystals of ice cascading to the snow-covered ground below.  
It was the silence, more than anything, and the long, dark night that made us reflect on life in less affluent times. How precious must have been the gifts of a fiddler, a storyteller or a traveler from afar—even for those among us who love the seclusion that such storms enforce.

Upon the roaring fire we placed a food rack taken from the gas grill. We began to cook, feeling more and more like the pioneers that first put down roots in the bluegrass: soup for dinner; eggs, toast and tea for breakfast; grilled cheese and ham for lunch.

The episode of isolation did not last long.  
A utility crew of five worked the row of walnut trees, understandably overlooking their stark and stirring beauty, searching only for any limb that threatened to interrupt the flow of power to the people all around. 
So it was that on the second day of the week our connections to the larger world were restored. We prepared a simple meal of black bean soup and welcomed to our table a couple who likewise had been two days without heat or light.

I sit now and stare at the trees. Their bent and broken shapes are sure to last, reshaping their setting against a sky that is sometimes blue, sometimes gray. They will remind me, I am sure, of the sabbath day that was forced upon us, and also of the way they make a metaphor for life. 
Dwight Moody is dean of the chapel at Georgetown College in Georgetown, Ky.