Stretching can feel wonderful when you first wake up and, like a cat, reach out with your arms and legs to get them moving. Gentle stretching can warm up your muscles before a workout, and gentle stretching can help you cool down later. But there are times when stretching is not so terrific. I think these are times when, instead of stretching yourself, situations stretch you.

Two years ago, after an early heavy wet 12 inch snow blanketed the trees which still hadn’t lost their leaves, the electricity went out for many days. We lost power for 7 days; others lost it for longer. There had been no warning, so I was not prepared for this sudden change in life. I was really being stretched, and I had no interest in the experience! The power company couldn’t say when the power would be back, and so we waited with everyone else while the crews worked tirelessly cutting branches and replacing wires.

So yes I was grumpy and cold since we live in New England and our gas furnace needs electricity to start. But two great experiences showed me that other people can really help when I am stretched beyond my limits. A dear friend had electricity(it was very sporadic across the state) and I went over to her house to thaw out and grump. She restored my mood significantly. Then our church let everyone know that it was open and warm. We were all invited to come plug in our electronic devices and enjoy a spaghetti dinner prepared for us by volunteers.

We went to church and found ourselves surrounded by 200 others, including the residents of a group home for the mentally challenged who were actually camped out at the church. As we sat and laughed and ate warm food, our ipods and phones were being recharged. So were we. It turns out sharing the struggle makes it endurable. I try to remember that when new situations stretch me “out of shape.”

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