Snow-Covered Memory Lane

This time of year I can’t help but remember one Christmas, in 1994. I don’t know what sets me off down memory lane- a whiff of a cigarette on the cold air, the still silence of winter night while driving, or just hitting the one more year mark from when it happened.
I was all set to go to Word of Life Bible Institute right after Christmas, I was going to drive up there and get a fresh start on my post- secondary education. I had been at OSU for a quarter, and really not liking it. I was lonely, and the math was hard. I don’t remember how it happened, but somehow I hooked up with my old boyfriend one night before Christmas and we decided to go on an all night road trip. I think we went all the way out to Cedarville, then down to Portsmouth, then wound up through the hills to Athens, the whole time throwing caution to the wind and laughing at what we were doing, driving all over the southern half of Ohio this cold, snow blanketed night. Nobody knew where we were. As we headed north out of Athens, we passed by the exit for The Plains, coincidentally one of the towns I lived in growing up. A deer came across the highway, and, giving me no time to swerve to miss it, was hit head on on my drivers’ side. I freaked out, no other way to put it. It is a wonder that I was able to keep driving. But I did, and made it into Nelsonville to stop at a gas station and assess the damage to the car. There happened to be a sheriff there at the station, and he wrote up some kind of report on the accident. I remember thinking how, now that there was a report, my parents would find out. Like they wouldn’t notice the deer-torso shaped dent in the front of the car. How foolish.
We made it home, and I had to tell my parents what had happened. I remember just wanting to go to sleep and never wake up, the feeling of stupidity was so great. Here I was with an awesome opportunity to leave this nonsense behind and escape to Jack Wyrtzen’s Bible Land in upstate New York, and this is what I chose to do with my time before I left.
Tonight, we went out with friends, and at one point we were talking about my high school years. I said that if there were a my-life version of Back To The Future, I would catch up with my younger self in the park behind the elementary school in 1992, and beg myself to leave with me, right now and not ever go back. Who knows if I would have listened to myself, anyway. Too bad the past can’t be conveniently changed to make us feel better, like in the movies.
But one blessing, at least, has resulted from the many times I think back to being such a silly teenager- the chance to see so many instances of God’s grace. That night driving through pitch black Hocking Hills, that wasn’t me making sure the car didn’t go over the hill on a hairpin curve, that was God. That wasn’t me hitting the deer just right so it didn’t roll up through the windshield and kill me, that was God.
We got my deer-maimed car into a body shop that graciously fixed it over Christmas. When we went to pick it up, I noticed there was a leaf imprint in the new paint job on the hood. That imprint never disappeared after waxings and years gone by. I think of it now as one more little reminder of God’s grace-“Yes, I fixed your car, but it will not be the same as before. Sin does some damage that remains.”
These memories are bittersweet, obviously, but I am glad to have them. Winter comes every year with its cold and its silence, but also with its snow, that covers all with pure whiteness. I remember how low I can get in my desires and ways, and I remember how God ransomed me and continues to redeem my faulty attempts at living this life, with a thick blanket of snow that makes it all radiate His beauty.
White as snow
White as snow
Though my sins were as scarlet
Lord I know
Lord I know
I am saved and forgiven
By the power of your blood
By the wonder of your love
Through faith in you I know that I can be
White as snow
(Not a song by me but I am having trouble googling who I can attribute it to at the moment, so just know I didn’t write this 🙂
We may not see any of the white stuff in our neck of the woods this Christmas, but it is enough for me to feel the cold on my cheeks, and sit with my thoughts on these silent nights, remembering His manifold grace.