Life happens, no matter our plans

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“There are times when it is hard to believe in the future, when we are temporarily just not brave enough. When this happens, concentrate on the present. Cultivate le petit bonheur (the little happiness) until courage returns. Look forward to the beauty of the next moment, the next hour, the promise of a good meal, sleep, a book, a movie, the likelihood that tonight the stars will shine and tomorrow the sun will shine. Sink roots into the present until the strength grows to think about tomorrow.”  

— Ardis Whitman, American Author 

With the re-setting of the clocks to standard time comes a darkness that plays right in to the hand of the changing calendar.

October’s beauty and lightheartedness drops us in to November, challenging us to find joy within the gray gloom.

A dear friend sent a picture yesterday, enjoying a sunny Thanksgiving with friends on the golf course from his southern home. He left Ohio a few years ago and says in no uncertain terms he will not be returning other than brief visits.

Our daughter once asked if we could move where the sun shines hot, where coats, boots and gloves are only items in a catalog. I told her this is our home, explaining this farm country is deep in our bones.

“But you knew it was cold. Why did you stay here?” that little girl of long ago asked.

No place like home

My ancestors settled this community in the 1800s, sinking roots that hold us still. At one time, it never occurred to us to go elsewhere, because no other place would feel like home. Our farm is cyclical and we are its caretakers throughout all of those seasons.

Life quickly changes. Whitman’s words touched a place we had never experienced: Our belief in the future, as well as our bravery in getting there, was challenged this past January as we awoke at 5 a.m. to a raging fire.

High winds were whipping flames from the upper part of our beautiful old barn with such intensity we were laid mute, helpless. The horrid realization struck, while waiting on firefighters, that even the smallest shift in the wind would cost us more than just our beloved barn, but every single thing we called ours.

As months went by, the stark empty hillside a sharp reminder every day of all that was lost, we drew up barn plans, settled on a builder, with construction to begin the first of July.

Many times his schedule changed, leaving us waiting. The lumber sits in the snow, hope fading of a barn perhaps by Christmas.

The joy of rebuilding, which could have been such a healing step, is now just another bruise carried forward.

Out of our control

We are grateful as we gather for Thanksgiving, but we have been humbled, circumstances reminding us so much is really never in our control, we are just grains in the shifting sand.

Across the ages of forever, it won’t matter one bit what was lost, what changing tides occurred during our watch. Our meager footprints will be brushed away, our struggles over, our opinions, our happy successes, the address of where we called home, every bit will become part of the fading story of our allotted trips around the sun.

Life happens, no matter our plans. Circumstance reminds us to live in the moment, and be grateful for it.

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Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college.

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