Twenty-five years ago or so, Mr. Scheetz visited here, and I asked him if he would put up a backboard on an old telephone pole in our yard and then hang our basketball hoop on it.  Ever obliging, he did this.  The backboard was a pallet made of rock maple, the hardest of woods.  It has hung on the pole all these years, looking almost as good as the day Pete hung it.  (I had the idea that a pallet backboard would be long-lasting since the winds would blow throw it rather than blowing it into the next county.) The hoop, however, didn’t hang so well after a nephew chose to jump off the hood of a car and do amazing dunks.  The nails holding the board that held the backboard pulled out and down came the rim.  That was maybe 20 years ago, and the rim has been in the yard hanging on the remains of a dead tree for that time, surely wishing to be reunited with the backboard whose greatest purpose seems to be a roost for owls.   (I would post a picture of the backboard if I knew how to do this.   It is well worth viewing.)

   The last Saturday in February relatives came to saw, split and stack wood for the remainder of this winter and to make a supply for next winter.  With brother-in-law Joe running the splitter, sisters Kath and Barb and some of their offspring hauled and stacked an amazing amount of wood.  (I would post a picture of the stack of wood if I knew how to do this.  It is even more worth viewing than the backboard.)

   At the end of the day, the woodworkers began cleaning up and decided to load a pickup load of junk from the yard to haul to our dump.  (We always seem to have at least this much junk around our yard.)  One sister picked up the hoop to throw in the pickup much to my horror.  (I was safely in the house avoiding all woodwork and cleanup)  The hoop was not only rescued, but Joe said he would hang it.  And he did.  The hoop and backboard were reunited, and I did leave the friendly confines of the house to take a couple shots with a deflated basketball.  The hoop needed a net and my brother Jim got that, though it has not been hung yet.  (I would post a picture of our dump if I knew how, but it may not be worth viewing after all.)

   On the night of the day of the woodcutting and basket hanging, exactly at midnight, I was hanging wash up in the house hoping the articles of clothing would dry by morning.  (I was not tired because I had only taken a few shots and avoided the woodwork.)  Suddenly, out of nowhere, car lights appeared coming down our road.  Was it the UPS or Fed Ex man making a delivery?  No.  The vehicle drove right past the cornfield drop off for packages and continued right into the yard.  I was amazed.  It was a diesel pickup with fancy lights in the back of it.  It paused for a few seconds in the yard, then drove off.  This was strange, but this is said by someone hanging laundry at midnight. I would post a picture of the pickup, but it drove off before I could get the camera. (I would not post a picture of our laundry even if I knew how.)

   When Jim brought the net on the following Monday, he also brought the mail that had a package in it for me.  The package contained the book The Anchorhold by Enid Dinnis.  I would like to recommend this book for Lenten reading.   I don’t know how available it is, since mine came to me through very unconventional means.   I was so happy to get this book because I had a copy years ago, lent it out, and never got it back, so don’t ask to borrow my copy.  (I would post a picture of the book, if I knew how, but I can describe the plain cover as navy blue, with no printing on it.)

   I had thought that the midnight pickup might have been my nephew Brent (He has a diesel pickup, but I don’t think fancy lights.) coming to look for something he had left during the woodworking.   He assured me he was not the late-night visitor.  This made me a little nervous.  Kath recommended that I lock doors the next night, which I did.  This is the first time I have ever locked our doors.  I even locked them a second night, but by the third night after the visitor, I quit.

   OK, that’s all I have to say before Lent.  Here comes Part Three of the series on Divine Providence.






The Lord Jesus says to us in the Gospel: ‘I tell you solemnly, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven.’ (Mt 18:3) It is in the simplicity and trust of childlikeness that we may go deeper into the wisdom of God. Therefore, in such a fine children’s story such as ‘At the back of the North Wind’ we are able to approach the wisdom of God in a new and refreshing way, especially when George MacDonald himself was inspired by his own strong Christian faith in writing such story. In the particular dialogue related in the last couple of weeks, the North Wind represents the mighty force of nature, which far surpasses human power: Who has ever been able to overcome by his own strength the fury of a storm in the middle of the ocean? Such force of nature is neither personal nor all powerful, because it always submits to the will of God, the only person who has all power, which is why we call him Almighty. The power of nature becomes an instrument of God who allows its strength to be unleashed to fulfill a greater plan whose details we ignore but whose ultimate outcome we know by faith. Just as it has been beautifully expressed in the words privately revealed by Jesus Christ to Lady Julian of Norwich: ‘[In the end] All matters of things will be well.’

The ultimate, radical and absolute triumph of the joy of God is symbolized in the story by the melody that North Wind always listens to, giving harmony to all of her actions, which far from being capricious or whimsical are always performed in faithful and loving obedience to God. North Wind knows and trusts that no matter how difficult, painful or tragic an event happening in the world affecting particular human beings might be, there is a reason in the mind of God for such trials to be allowed. He is not the creator of evil, rather in his omnipotence He allows it to happen, because He has the power to bring forth greater blessings out of such evil. The history of the universe is like an elaborate and rich symphony which develops a melody of love to be resolved in a joyous and glorious final movement that will show the amazing beauty of such core melody in all its splendor. But while the symphony is still being performed, many times such primordial melody is hidden as it is woven into the tapestry of other melodies apparently opposed or even in contradiction to it, but they are shown together in such a way that ultimately, the core melody always prevails and its beauty and purity shines even more when contrasted with other melodies that appear to be dark, painful or sad. When we talk about Divine Providence, we profess a central aspect of our faith: The fact that no matter what happens to us in the world, every single event is divinely ordained for the ultimate happiness of each person and the ultimate restoration of Creation. This truth is exquisitely described by Saint Paul as he writes to the Romans: We know that all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now; and not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, we also groan within ourselves as we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

(Rm 8:22-23)



To be continued next week.