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Monday, October 1, 2007

Revelations from Sukkot

We left Thursday morning for the weekend to celebrate Sukkot. This is the feast of booths or tabernacles that is found in Leviticus 23:33-36. The idea is to sleep in a tent or booth, some sort of temporary structure, in order to remember the time the Israelites spent in the desert, living in and worship from temporary buildings. There is so much symbolism in all this: we are wandering here on earth, awaiting our deliverance to the Promised Land (heaven), we dwell in temporary shelters (bodies) but will one day have permanent and perfected bodies, and on and on. It is also the feast of ingathering, which is the celebration of all that God has given us this year from our garden and fields and as I mentioned before, I LOVE the feeling of seeing bins full of potatoes and apples, and barrels of wheat and rye and oats, and having herbs drying in the kitchen and food drying in the dehydrator. That is such a visible witness to God's provision (remember I said my favorite pictures were of stocked root cellars in the old-fashioned books?) So it is such a time of joy and happiness.

And yet, it was a time of testing and growth for me. As for the goal of putting myself in the place of the Israelites, it was a complete success. See, I have always been kinda judgmental of them. I mean, they witnessed the plagues and saw God's deliverance, they were led by a pillar of wind and fire and saw God's deliverance, they saw the RED SEA PARTED and experienced God's deliverance, they got water from a rock, food from the sky, saw the glory of the Lord descend on a mountain, and were protected from all enemies (all of which were evidence of God's deliverance) and yet they moaned and whined and fretted and doubted the Lord. I always thought they were a bunch of cry babies with very short memories (or who were not easily impressed!).

Well, we had our outline of how the weekend would go. We were going to arrive at the campsite Thursday afternoon, set up our tent, start a fire, roast our meat-kabobs and vegetables, have Matzos and grape juice, figs, olives, honey and almonds, and read from the Bible and the book about the Feasts of the Lord, and bask in the glow of a spiritual remembrance. Well, we got started late because of the fact that we had to go shopping. We were supposed to do it Wednesday, but Gary got sick and slept all afternoon, so we did the shopping and got home and ready to go only to be 4 hours behind schedule! We were driving down the turnpike when the bus suddenly made a loud noise, which continued for 20 miles until I finally yelled at Gary that he either had to pull over or I was jumping from the window. The exhaust had slipped out of its hanging clamp and broke, and the bus was full of fumes. We were tired and had headaches and our eyes were red. It turned out to be a 3 minute fix job, but we were already on shaky ground because of the terse words I had said to my husband. He was in front with the window opened and couldn't smell the fumes, so he thought I was just mad about the noise and he wanted to get to the campground before dark. So we each went on what we knew and decided the other was wrong!

So we got to our exit and tried to find the campground only to realize I had plugged the wrong address into the mapquest. I looked up the address of the bowling alley in that town so that if we were rained out we had a back up plan. We had directions to the bowling alley, but not the campground! By the time we found our way, it was dark, so we were trying to set up a tent in the dark. I had brought the lamp, but when I was looking for the canopy to the tent, I knocked it over and broke the bulb! So we were wrestling with this tent in the dark, and had no cover to it. We took the other tent (good thing we brought both just in case) and turned it upside down over the bottom tent for a cover. Unfortunately, the wind picked up and blew it off, so we then had to find bailer twine and electric fence wire (good thing we are farmers) to tie the top tent down. Then I started a fire and warmed our kabobs (they were pre-cooked so I didn't have to worry about them being done enough) and we ate them and went to bed. No matzos, no honey, no olives. Then a sudden gust of wind kicked the embers from the fire up against the tent, so we hurriedly went out and doused the fire with water, which then smoldered all night and made everyone's allergies go haywire.

So we woke up sick and had to try and re-light a fire. Friday was to be our relaxing day, walking trails and swimming and just enjoying the outdoors. Well, I was already mad about the allergies and then we fought about starting the fire. Gary ended up in the ER two weeks ago very sick, and has developed asthma out of nowhere, so I thought I should do the fire. He wanted to do it because he thought I was doing it wrong, to which I retorted “How many fires did I start at home?!?” Cause when we first built our house, he had never had a fire place so I started all the fires. Well, that made him all the more determined to finish it, so he spent 40 minutes playing with those wet ashes and big logs (no kindling) and finally got the fire going, but then he got sick. He had to lay down, but the tent was full of smoke, so he lay on the ground by a tree with the baby’s bunny for a pillow. I made the kids their breakfast of eggs, pancakes, and bacon and then the bacon was missing when we sat down to eat. We do have kids with food issues, so I immediately started the inquisition. No one budged, and I never did figure out what happened to the bacon, but I was even madder when Gary woke up and said he was really feeling bad. I said we should go home, and he said no, and went back to sleep under that tree. Well, the baby had blisters on her heels from shoes that got too small REALLY fast so I had to leave her barefoot. The stroller wouldn’t go on the trails because they were made of slag and the wheels kept getting caught, so I had to sit at that campsite and wait for Gary to be revived from his coma. He didn’t want to go home because it would ruin the fun for the kids, but they wandered around the campground since they had to stay with me and I had to stay with the baby, so they were bored and upset. When Gary finally came to at 4:00, he said he thought he would be OK, so we decided to stay, but because I could not build another fire, we went to town to get food. When we got back, it was dark again, so we went to bed.

Saturday was the apple butter festival and pie contest at Sauder Village. All those entering pies got free admission, so we would only have to pay for Gary and Joe. Well, our oldest had stepped in two of the pies and didn’t tell us, so we had only three pies to enter. And I of course launched into a lecture about how irresponsible it was not to tell us the truth when it happened and to allow someone else to take blame for something they didn’t do. We decided we would have to go with the pies we had and I would just pay for her and myself to get in (which would kill the budget, but what can you do?) The deadline for pies was 10:30, but when we left the campground, we forgot that all our directions were from the bowling alley, so we got lost and lost time and didn’t get there in time to enter ANY of the pies. So I was steaming about that. I made a conscious decision to have a good day, and I did enjoy the village, but when we went to the restaurant to eat, the waitress didn’t have all our water glasses to the table at the same time, so the 7 year old threw a tantrum. If there is one thing I cannot tolerate in public it is big kids throwing baby fits. So I was really upset and angry. She kept crying and looking around for sympathy, and I kept getting more and more angry at her (if you don’t get this story, read the series on fostering/adopting). Gary even took her outside to correct her, but when they came back she kept crying and then she refused to eat the food put in front of her. The water showed up at the table (and she drank 1/3 of it, BTW!) but my stomach was in such a knot I couldn’t eat, which made me more upset because this was not a cheap dinner. We went back to the village grounds and finished our tour, but I had a headache and my stomach was hurting and by the time I got settled down, it was closing. We headed back toward the campground, stopping at a Wal-Mart for some food that did not have to be cooked. We also bought the series Christy on DVD, so we had something to do when it got dark since we could not sit around the fire. We had our sub sandwiches and watched three of the movies, and then the baby was fussy all night long. She kept waking up crying and would climb out of her pak-n-play into our air mattress. I would let her fall asleep and then put her back, only to repeat it over and over.

Sunday was our last day, so we had wanted to pack up after breakfast and stop at a church on the way home. Well, it was all we could do to get out of our site in time. We stopped at McD’s on the way out of town, so I finally had some coffee and a hot meal. I was doing some serious inflection about this time, and really put it in my heart to try and have a good trip home with the kids. Because we had time, we were going to take the scenic route, which is the way I used to go to Defiance to get to school. We stopped at a cemetery (cause you know how we are about cemeteries) to stretch our legs and ended up spending a great deal of time there (I thin an hour and a half, but more about that in another post). During my time of inflection, I had thought about how I floundered all weekend. I thought the Israelites were bad, but look at my demonstration. People could look right at me and say the same thing I had. I have seen deliverance. In fact, unlike the Israelites, I have experienced the full, complete, and eternal deliverance of the Messiah. My sins are gone, my name is in the book, and I have the promise that nothing on this earth can separate me form the love of God. And yet I whined, I grumbled, I complained, I lost sight of the goal.

There are people begging the Lord for babies, and I was grumpy that mine kept me up. There were people who had lost children (we read the statistic at the village of 1800’s children- 1 out of every 10 died by the age of 10) and I was mad at mine for stepping in pies and stealing bacon- all temporal things that can be replaced. I was disappointed in the way the menu turned out, while people were starving in countries run by men who care nothing about them. I was mad at my husband for being stubborn and getting himself sick, while there are women (a friend of this blog, in fact) who were saying goodbye to their husbands for a year, or forever, in order to protect our country and the nation of Israel. I was annoyed that the top of our tent was missing while there were people living on the streets just 20 miles away in the city. I was a hypocrite. I stood in the face of such blessing and salvation and whined. Any one of you could have called me on it, and you would have been right. Sure, I didn’t see anything as miraculous as the parting of a sea, but I also was not being chased by an Egyptian army bent on my destruction. In perspective, I have more reason to hold fast. I’m not still waiting for the deliverer. He has come. He is now preparing the wedding feast for me. Just like the Israelites, I took my eyes off the deliverance and began to worry about the futile.

And there was much to be glad about even in the midst of my ‘troubles’. We had the money to go. Our bus didn’t blow a tire or spring a gas leak. The children did not get croup as they usually do from sleeping outside. It did not rain. I found a great visual aid for the article I have been writing about death. And I finally got the message of Sukkot. God often lets us flounder so that we realize just how powerful He is when he takes out of it. Our wandering is part of our perfecting process. I forgot to view the multitude of blessing I had gathered this year that will be stored up in my heart for the winter (my wandering) and get me through until the day I go marching into the Promised Land.

As an interesting note, we did find the canopy to our tent. It was underneath us the whole time. Somehow in the setting up of the poles and the canvas, it got on the ground and covered up. We didn’t see it because we were working in the dark. Man, isn’t that about the best analogy for the lesson I learned this Sukkot or what?


Kelly said...

I love that you just put everything in this. So many blogs I read don't seem like reality. THIS sounds so much more like every vacation that I've ever had, than the perfectly blissful vacations that I read about on blogs. :)

We had a trip this weekend, too. We actually stopped at Cracker Barrel for supper on Thursday evening, and I remembered to try the sweet potato casserole, because I've never had it before. It was very good, and I've never had a recipe with citrus in it like that before, so thanks for the tip!

Anonymous said...

LOL @ Australia Amy!! Thats me!! sounds like you had a great time!

Hope you are having a good start of the week
Amy (Australia!! :P)