I woke this morning to the whistle of the wind in my window whipping across the plains in the lingering blackness of night. I lay there in the dark listening to the familiar, mournful voice that I have known all my life. I know it will only build in intensity with the heat of the day so I am disappointed that I must once again postpone my garden plans.
I love this country and the land on which I live, but in seasons like this I also wonder why anyone ever settled here in this harsh land. A family joke in answer to that often asked question is, “this is where the wagon broke down.” Actually, I admire that sturdy stock of people, some of whom are my own ancestors, who settled this harsh land with its extreme weather. It is this admiration and pride in those people that endeared my heart to John Erickson’s book Prairie Gothic – a beautifully written story of John Erickson’s ancestors interwoven with the places and events that are a part of the rich history of these high plains and the unique, strong, and determined people that made it home.
As the drought continues to rob us of pasture and pinch the already shriveled economy, I wonder if I have the strength and determination that my ancestors possessed to endure these difficult times. However, I not only want to endure, I want to remain inwardly peaceful and content despite the times and the seasons in which I live. I want to know that my joy is not dependent upon the times, seasons, or circumstances of my life.
I may not carry a heavy physical burden, but when I look around at the hurting countryside desperate for water, the hurting nation desperate for strong, moral leaders, and the hurting people desperate for answers, I am reminded of a conversation between Gandolf and Frodo in the “Lord of the Rings” movie in which Frodo wishes the ring had never come to him. He is wishing that the journey that still lies before him was not his to take – and who can blame him. Gandolf’s reply is one of those lines that echoes scripture and etches itself into my mind, “So do all who live to see such times, so do all.” He goes on to remind Frodo that it is not up to us to determine the times in which we live, and his response is very similar to that of Mordecai to Ester, “…who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
We may not be called to perform some brave act of valor or any other mighty feat in our lifetime; ours may be to just stand firm and unmovable in what we believe; we may be called to help our brethren through difficult times, or perhaps we are simply called to live joyfully in the times and seasons in which we are placed. Our life may be that witness of the peace that passes understanding as all the earth groans around us because we know our hope, our peace, and our anchor is in something far greater than our circumstances. But wherever we dwell, in whatever season or generation we live, it is a great comfort knowing that God has appointed the times and the places of habitation for all nations of men to dwell on the face of the earth.