Last week’s prediction of a blizzard gave me a flashback.
A number of years ago in my college days I went with a group of friends to New Hampshire for a ski weekend. To save money I’d rented a vacant office with a small kitchen and bathroom, and we slept in sleeping bags on the floor. We skied hard on Saturday, and on Sunday we woke to find it snowing, a skier’s delight! Some of our group decided to head home at noon, but four of us diehards waited till the lifts closed. As it turned out there were 4 of us in 3 cars. It was snowing hard and the blowing made it hard to see so we decided to drive with our car dome lights on so we could see one another on the road.
The going was slow even on the highway and the conditions were horrible. The snow accumulated on our wiper blades, so we kept pulling over to clean them off. I was lead car, and at one wiper blade-cleaning stop, a state trooper pulled in front of me and asked if I was all right. I asked him how the roads were ahead, and he told me they were slow going until the Massachusetts line where it was stopped. I asked him if he would tell that to the two cars behind me. We decided to turn around and go back to the town were we had stayed.
The problem was that we no longer had the key to the place we’d stayed as we had been instructed to put it through the mail slot. It was before the days of cell phones so we couldn’t call my friends from whom I had rented the space, so we decided to drive to their house just a mile or so out of town. We left two cars in the parking lot, piled our sleeping bags and ourselves, two boys and two girls, into my car, and we set out.
I had been there many times and knew the way well, but the blizzard conditions made it hard to recognize anything. We kept slipping and sliding, and the boys, who had no boots only street shoes, kept getting out to push the car back onto the road. They were covered from head to foot with the heavy wet snow, but never complained. Houses in the area were few, far between and often out of sight down long driveways, but as we slid off the road for the umpteenth time, we saw a glimmer of house lights. The two boys decided to trudge over and ask if they could use the phone to call my friends.
I heard that at first the people wouldn’t let them in because of how they looked, but they finally did. We learned that we were almost at my friend’s driveway, and that their college aged son, Sam, would come down on snowshoes to lead us back on foot as the driveway was a steep uphill.
He arrived, and as we were gathering our things, the other woman collapsed in the snow. She was having a panic attack. The two boys each grabbed one side of her, and we started off through over knee-deep snow in the howling blizzard. Sam was at the lead, followed by my three friends, and I brought up the rear.
As we started up the hill, I was falling further and further behind. The wind was whipping and taking my breath away. I was terrified and had visions of getting lost in the snow. At risk of falling further behind, I stopped, and shouted wait, and as I did, there was a lull in the wind, and they heard me. That was definitely God’s grace. I trudged up behind them, grabbed the back of someone’s parka and didn’t let go until I was safely in the house.
In that lull in the wind, I felt God’s presence helping me.