By Becky Cook

In the waning days of 2016, I was having a phone conversation with a dear good friend. We were sharing reflections on significant moments, and she was relating to me the domino-like arrival of some earth shaking events in her life over the year. A truly hopeful and positive person, my friend was not soliciting a pity party or complaining about life’s dirty deals. She was simply expressing her life realities. Just a recall of those events might cause a person to be discouraged or depressed. But, she chose a curious and touching way to review it. I suspect it will always rekindle a warm feeling in my heart with every thought of her and the “And Then. . .” narrative.

It went something like this. Probably the most dominant event in her family’s life then was the long debilitating illness of one of her sons. He was going through a sequence of interchanging seasons of hope and discouragement, and ultimately lost his fight with cancer. Beyond that there was her husband’s stroke, a minor auto accident, and a disappointing denial of a residential choice for retirement living. In reality these events fell in different sequence than I‘ve mentioned. But my friend started each story, with the words “And Then. . . ”. Her final entry to the sequence was the account of losing a treasured and valuable piece of jewelry which was deemed irretrievable, but which felt to her like the loss of a dear friend.

Further, our 2016 world was fraught with many troublesome events. A nasty presidential election, multiple deadly natural disasters, looming foreign as well as domestic terrorism and war, poverty, and unemployment to name a few. It seemed at least every other week there was news of innocent school children and/or law enforcement officers or other citizens being gunned down for no apparent reason. A season of relentless forest fires settled in to our area and destroyed many acres of forest, forcing some residents to be evacuated from their homes. Local and other fire fighters worked long and hard to help bring the situation to an end, and community members pulled together to coordinate schedules, feeding, and evacuation details.

And Then. . . .“ took on a new meaning as our community pulled together for resolution of all the facets of the season of forest fires. My friend and I talked again several times. While we could do little about the depressing nature of global issues, and the negative events which we each had experienced recently, we could now lay claim to the new beginning, the powerful, even miraculous changes giving us a revised “And Then. . .“ list inspired by a beautiful quote from scripture:

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when

he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God

has promised to those who love Him .”

James 1:12

Mountain Breeze, Jan/Feb, 2017