It was my first-time visiting Vermont as an adult, and I wasn’t disappointed. Boulder-strewn streams meandered through lush forests, surrounding open meadows, and backed by hazy mountains. As I visited Bethany congregation (Bridgewater Corners, VT), I spent the weekend eating outdoors and sitting in congregational meetings where I could feel breezes through open windows or sitting circled in the shade of established trees. I enjoyed the beauty of nature as well as the beauty of new friendships and deepening connections.
All this beauty was linked by a network of windy roads—some of which were cracked and crumbling. Vermont has been enduring a series of floods that have stretched its aging infrastructure to the limits. After the first flood this summer, crews worked quickly to rebuild destroyed roads while residents worked just as hard to clear out muddy basements, repair impassable driveways, and replant gardens. And then it rained again. And again. And again.
I heard the fatigue in our Mosaic siblings as they talked about what has felt like an exhausting cycle of rain and repair this summer. They’re self-sufficient and determined, but they wonder when the rainy season will end. This is unprecedented. No one seems to know.
As I drove home through the picturesque countryside on Sunday afternoon, skirting construction cones and passing crumpled bridges, I resonated with their weariness.
I feel like my summer has been crumbling around me. Unreliable childcare has framed weeks when one crisis bleeds into the next. Every time I put out one fire, I turn around to learn a congregation has left the conference or my computer has crashed or my daughter’s camp is canceled or someone is angry about something else. We’re patching the roads, but everywhere I turn, they keep crumbling around me. How many times have I caught myself crying out, “Can’t I catch a break?”
I thought about the long-time residents of Vermont explaining what it would take to flood-proof the roads— a significant change in infrastructure or even relocating the roads entirely. It feels impossible. As I drove past detour signs and washed-out streets, I found myself crying out to God: Is this all there is? For Vermont, for my family, for the conference?
Something stirred in my heart: Do I trust the Holy Spirit to go ahead of me, preparing a way?
I would like to say I experienced a rush of peace at the thought, but instead I felt my insides breaking open. I knew the turmoil of the father who fell at Jesus’ feet and said, “Ï believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24)
Do I truly believe the Holy Spirit is going ahead of me in my life, ahead of us as a conference, ahead of our communities in Vermont, and preparing a path before us? I can’t see a way right now, yet the deepest part of me yearns to trust that God’s Spirit is leading us by the hand around the ruts, patching up the crumbled lanes, even building a new road in the wilderness, one beyond the reach of life’s flooding (Isaiah 43:2, 14).
I believe; help my unbelief!
For the last couple of weeks, my prayer has been simple and heartfelt: “Prepare the way! Holy Spirit, come. Prepare a way.” We don’t see how. We don’t know what kind of journey it will be. Just prepare a way before us. Please.
Editor’s note: Through Bethany Church and Bethany Birches Camp in Vermont, our Mosaic community is actively involved in assessing and providing for the essential needs of families impacted by the storms, flooding, and ongoing rains mentioned in this article. Bethany Church is working directly with a family with 3 children who lost their home and all their belongings. The congregation is providing funds for clothing, books, toys, and building supplies with the limited means available. If you would like to join in this work of caring for those in need in Vermont, especially this family and the surrounding community, please send donations to Mosaic Mennonite Conference (designate for Bethany Birches Flood relief) at 1000 Forty Foot Rd., Suite 100, Lansdale, PA 19446.