February 9, 2010

Peace in the Storm: Eastern Screechowl

Peace in the Storm - Eastern Screechowl sleeping in tree - painting ┬ęSusan Donley Left: “Peace in the Storm: Eastern Screechowl,” Susan Donley, 2008. 14×11 inches, ink on engraved clayboard (scratchboard). Backyard Wildlife Series

The calm between two storms

As I write this post, our town (Oakmont outside of Pittsburgh, PA) is bracing for its second blizzard in less than a week. Last Friday and Saturday we got 23 inches of snow, instead of the 6-10 inches predicted. School has been cancelled ever since, as municipalities have yet to clear all the streets. Thousands are still without power. Humvee-equipped National Guard soldiers is helping emergency services reach people still trapped in their homes.

Now another storm is bearing down on us! The National Weather Service predicts the same 6-10 inches as last week and we are all hoping they are correct this time! Six inches would seem like a mere dusting at this point, though just a week ago we cowered at the thought!

Though I’m a fan of winter in moderation, these back-to-back storms have me bouncing between worries: power going out, trees toppling, cars getting stuck, milk running out, wild birds starving, and all manner of things I dream up. I tend to forget that the same God who created the seasons and the elements, also created me and all the people and critters I worry about. He’s not likely to suddenly forget us!

A lesson in faith

At times like these, I find the natural world full of lessons in faith. Several years ago, I looked out my bathroom window to see wonderful surprise guest sleeping in the hole in the sycamore tree: An Eastern Screechowl with red coloring (they also come in a gray version). I was thrilled that he stayed there off and on throughout the winter, though he was often down inside the hole where I couldn’t see him.

One late afternoon as the sun was going down, I looked out at the snow that was beginning to fall. Lo and behold, the little owl slept soundly, the snow piling up on top of his head! I imagined a cartoon balloon above him saying “What? Me worry?”! I took a photo to remember that perfect picture of peace in the middle of a storm.

Last year I dug out that photo to serve as a reference for this scratchboard painting titled “Peace in the Storm.” (Learn more about scratchboard here.) I decided today was the perfect time to unveil this painting and remember the lesson this little owl taught me that day.

May you have peace in whatever storm you face today!

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The little guy is beautiful [handsome?], Sue – and the detail seen in your portrait is awesome – especially when you enlarge the painting then ‘mouse-over’ it. He certainly conveys faith-filled peace. He’s also a perfect illustration of where I find myself in the midst of the same winter storm. Here I am, in unbelievable peace even though my caregivers are unable to reach me. Not too many years ago, I would not have been able to manage this and would have been in a panic. What a work of grace! Carole

Comment by Carole Anderson — February 10, 2010 @ 6:16 pm

Looks like we’re getting another chance to practice, Carole… Looks like the third storm in less than two weeks is brewing to arrive tomorrow! We’d better learn to trust pretty soon, or we’ll have snow up to our rooftops! ;-)

Comment by Susan Donley — February 15, 2010 @ 12:13 am

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Random peek into my sketchbook