It Cannot Be Contained

Blood has been harder to dam back than water.
Just when we think we have it impounded safe
Behind new barrier walls (and let it chafe!),
It breaks away in some new kind of slaughter.
We choose to say it is let loose by the devil;
But power of blood itself releases blood.
It goes by might of being such a flood
Held high at so unnatural a level.
It will have outlet, brave and not so brave.
weapons of war and implements of peace
Are but the points at which it finds release.
And now it is once more the tidal wave
That when it has swept by leaves summits stained.
Oh, blood will out. It cannot be contained.

~Robert Frost “The Flood”

Rain has fallen heavily for just four days, with balmy temperatures up to 55 degrees, right after multiple feet of snow had fallen in the mountains to the east of us. As a result we have a state of emergency in our county with flooding in places that have not been flooded in decades, if ever. There are many people unable to leave their homes due to roads that have become rivers and some have had to sadly abandon their flooded homes. The drive time to work has been tripled because the detours are zigzagging all over the county.

Even those of us who are natives become overwhelmed by rain and moisture that clings to everything and everyone, blocking daylight so thoroughly that we leave for work in the dark and return in the dark in these shortening days. The continuing rain is not predicted to end anytime soon, so I wonder about hitting the proverbial 40 days of rain. Indeed, it’s time to build an ark. Otherwise we may be left treading water as it rises around us.

Along with the local rivers and streams overflowing their banks, there is a new lake in our lower field. We have this little problem with our barn, located strategically at the bottom of a hillside. Three of our seven stalls have standing water, so the Haflingers are keeping themselves on the higher dryer bedding, happy to be out of the wet, but insulted at prolonged confinement as there is no place to go outside without mud and mire. Regular flakes of hay bribe them into complacency. Things can’t be too bad when the best part of the day involves eating…

Ah, but it takes its toll on our psyches. Wet cold dankness without reprieve can be hard on man and beast. We are all waiting, waiting, wishing for something different, wanting relief just as we complained about drought this past summer for weeks on end, praying for rain. The Haflingers wait for their freedom from confinement and desire the sun on their backs once again, but settle for the memory of the sun and pastures as it is tossed in the form of flakes of dried field grass under their noses. I imagine they breathe deeply into that hay and reminisce about those warm lazy days in the pasture with every mouthful.

What do I wait for? I am discontent, antsy and eager for a respite from this. No one tosses a flake of hay to me to keep me from complaining, though it just might work if it was served with hot chocolate with whipped cream topping.

Actually, the waiting, the anticipation is for something beyond the temporary satisfaction of hunger or thirst. It is a far deeper need, and a greater want and desire. Our longing for light in our deepest darkest times can urge us forward, to prepare us for what comes next.

And it can come from the most unlikely source. It can come from a barn, bedded in hay, tucked in a manger. That baby whose birth we will soon anticipate during Advent is the ark that keeps us afloat in the flood.

In our dreariest of moments, we must wait and prepare. The sun will return, surround us, dry us out and warm us, and we will be ready. In the mean time, I’ll crawl into the manger and tuck myself in and breathe deeply of the hay, pondering the promise of summer.

So I don’t plan to build an ark after all. I’m buoyed,  held up and here to stay: soppy, saturated, and drenched with the showering of life.

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