The world outside my window is a frozen, still place.

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Quiet. Close. Heavy.

Sometimes, a prison is a sanctuary.

We begin the day, familiar in the tasks of the morning… coffee and toast and eggs, sandwich-making for his lunch, starting the frozen vehicle. At the breakfast table he reports the temperature, minus twenty-two. But there’s no wind, I say. Bright side, silver lining, and all that.

He leaves trailing a list of things for the boys to do. Chores and shovelling, mainly. So much snow. So much winter.

I sit to the coffee, warm the cup with a drop more, and a boy’s door opens. He’s cradling a basket of laundry.

Morning, he says as he passes through the kitchen. I’m starting a load. I’m out of clean clothes.

I smile and sip and I check Facebook on my phone, thinking of all those battling winter today as they head to work or to school. All those status updates about bad roads and stuck vehicles. Busses not running. A small prayer whispered for safety. A moment’s thought about it all. Mom’s taking kids to school or daycare. Friends travelling to their jobs. Everyone clearing away the storm, helping or being helped by neighbours, trying to get to where they need to be. The effort it takes.

He’s back, shaking water from the shower out of his hair and asking for breakfast. I’m slow today, and I ask what he wants.

Pancakes?

I make a deal with him. If he mixes them, I’ll cook them. So we do, and the kitchen soon warms with the smell of pumpkin and cinnamon and hot butter. The other boys make their way to the table and we sit and eat and I read from Exodus, that story of Moses holding high his staff, the fate of the raging battle in his raised arms.

Carter tries to hold his arms up for a while.

It’s hard, he says.

We read of the friends who come to help Moses when he tires. They bring him a seat and they hold his arms for him, and we giggle a little at the picture it brings to mind.

Aren’t they kind of using a loop-hole? says Tyson. I mean, shouldn’t he have had to do it by himself?

I don’t know, I say. I think God is always okay with us needing help. Life is hard, and we all need help sometimes.

We all need help sometimes. In the storm. When we’re stuck. When we’re sick. When it’s hard.

Thankful, so thankful, for a friend who will bring a rock to sit down on when weariness threatens to overwhelm.

Thankful, so thankful, for a friend who will help support the weight when it gets too heavy to bear alone.

Thankful so thankful, for a God who doesn’t make us do it all by ourselves, all the time. Who is there. Who provides. Who cares.

So Joshua and his men went out to fight the army of Amalek. Meanwhile Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of the hill. And as long as Moses held up the rod in his hands, Israel was winning; but whenever he rested his arms at his sides, the soldiers of Amalek were winning. Moses’ arms finally became too tired to hold up the rod any longer; so Aaron and Hur rolled a stone for him to sit on, and they stood on each side, holding up his hands until sunset. As a result, Joshua and his troops crushed the army of Amalek, putting them to the sword.

Exodus 17: 10-13 (Living Bible)

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