Limited Visibility


The north wind doth blow,

And we shall have snow

~nursery rhyme

We are in the midst of a blizzard. A writer friend of mine who sees the world more poetically than most says she is “snuggled home enjoying the beauty of the storm.” I’m semi-snuggled in a cozy corner of my own thinking on that perspective. Wondering where the beauty is in that fierce wind raging from the north, blowing snow horizontal, covering the plow’s progress on the road.

At least this was a storm they predicted. They saw it coming on the radar and told us it was coming. We all ran out for milk and bread and prepared to hibernate for the day. Here in northwest Connecticut, a blizzard is a break from the norm. It provided us with the coveted “snow day.” We don’t mind hibernating for the day. We even hope for it a couple times a year. All the while knowing we wouldn’t want this every day. Life in the tundra is okay for a day, but not for every day. We’re okay because we know it will end. Sometime tonight they say. So we snuggle and sip cocoa and watch movies, storing up energy to shovel the heaps of snow later, make paths through the white stuff to navigate our lives. We plan the clean out.

Life’s storms–we can’t predict those. Sure, there are the cynics who expect tragedy, a crisis at every turn. They are the ones to say, “I told you this would happen.” Maybe they are surprised when things run smoothly. I’m not one of those. I prefer not to have an Eeyore perspective on life, but I can’t say I’m surprised either when challenges arise. Although I can’t forecast them, I know they cycle around. The wind will rise, the going will be slower, tougher. Maybe we’ll have to hunker down and wait out the storm. Who knows for how long?

The tricky part comes when we have to lace the boots and step out in it–brave the storm. Visibility is low. Maybe we can’t see our hand in front of our face. But we look down and see our feet in those boots, and, once we can see the next step in front of us–sometimes even before we see it– it’s time to take that step.

E.L. Doctorow said:

“Writing is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

I knew this was true for writing, but after having recently read Nancy Ortberg’s Seeing in the Dark, I realize this is also true in life. She says:

“We get a glimpse when what we want is a panoramic view.”

That’s where faith comes in. I can’t see all of my life mapped out. (Maybe that’s why although I find maps fascinating, I’m not good at using them. I like to pinch my fingers on the screen and spread them out to zoom in on street names and landmarks. Don’t show me the whole county. I can’t navigate that far!)

I’m learning that when the future looks uncertain, it’s okay. It’s not that there isn’t a wider landscape out there. The world will not end even though it may look that way. As I tell my dear friend, “Something will happen!” (Incidentally, did you know there are still people who believe the Earth is flat? But I digress. . .)

The storm will eventually clear, at least enough for me to see the next step. See that little line in the upper right hand corner of my website? Where it says:

“We are only given enough for today

but always enough for today.”

(Did I just quote myself? I guess I did.)

I wrote that when I started this site a few years ago. When I wrote it I was talking about provision, daily bread, manna kind of stuff. Today, to me, it also means we are only given enough direction for today but we are always given that for the day.

Like when I walk into school in the morning as a substitute teacher. I don’t always know what my assignment will be. I certainly never know all that my day will entail. (Who does?) But most days I know what school I will be working in, and I know the hours of operation. I have a basic idea what my job will be. (I will not be shingling a roof or performing a root canal.) Stepping into the school office in the morning is good practice for the different weather patterns of life. We wake up with maybe some idea of the pressures and pleasures our day will hold, but we have no real way of knowing the details.

Some days the air is sweet, the sun warm on my face. I step lightly into the world. Other days, I’m snowed in with no place to go until the storm subsides. I can try to fight it or, like my friend, I can enjoy the beauty of the storm. I wonder again,

Where is the beauty in the storm?

Huddled safe in the sanctuary of home, we listen to the wind howl. When we can do nothing else, we can marvel at the awesome power of it. It is, after all, stronger than we are.

But that’s not enough for this searching soul. After reading Ann Voskamp’s 1,000 Gifts and The Broken Way, I am challenged to find the gifts here.

When I look, I see.

Snow splattered artfully on window screens. . .

Snow drift sculptures changing gracefully in the wind. . .


Hundreds of words on the screen where before the storm there was only white space. . .

Gifts all.


About Amy Nicholson

A busy wife and mother pausing to ponder the beauty and complexity of life and share it with words.
This entry was posted in 1000 Gifts, Ann Voskamp, Books, faith, Gifts, Gratitude, Patience, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Limited Visibility

  1. Dick Benton says:

    Yes, indeed, Amy.


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