White Winters

Snow is falling heavily here in Minnesota.  And I am tucked away warmly inside while beautiful white chaos swirls outside.  Finally, December begins to feel like Christmastime.  While many of my friends and family are grimacing over the snowfall, I find myself quite happy.  So many things to look forward to with snow: tubing, snowshoeing, nights that no longer seem quite so dreary as the light reflects off the mantle of white, periwinkle mornings where the sky and snow all reflect that same bluish pinkish lavender hue.  Sunrises in snowy December are one of my favorite things; they make me so deliciously happy to be alive and present to the splendor around me.

And in the midst of the cozy happiness, I find myself just a teensy bit nostalgic.  I’ve curled up with some hot peppermint tea, and remembered the long ago days when my mom would make peppermint tea for us as we came in from romping in the snow.  This time of year she’d put a peppermint stick in the tea as the allotted sugar.  And my siblings and I would swirl our peppermint sticks around and around in the hot liquid while they became dagger sharp at the end. Alas, no candy canes at this house, so sugar was my sweetener of choice today.

As I write I keep asking myself — ok, what’s your point.  And today, I’m just grateful that God has given me this day.  A day to sit at home quietly reading, enjoying stillness and silence, sipping tea– today is a day for breathing.  As I look back on an overwhelming November and ahead to a bustling December, this day is a gift to be cherished. I have been graced with time to research papers that I’m working on, stew in a few ideas, remember my mother, and bask in the light of our Christmas tree.  So, no existential crisis today, or theological concept that I’m wrestling with, or something I’m mourning.  Just a quiet sense of peace and gratitude, and I’m more than OK with that for today.

I (Heart) Snowstorms

I may be the only person in the world who feels this way, but I love snowstorms. I think they’re awesome, no matter when they happen. I love curling up at home with hot cocoa and staring out the window at the blustering winds moving the snow around; watching the flakes tangle in the trees, covering everything in a blanket of clean, white snow. It makes me feel warm and cozy.

Yesterday I loved the snowstorm for an entirely different reason. I find it highly soothing and comforting when the weather outside reflects my current emotional status. It calms me down, as though nature were empathizing with my current life situation.

On Saturday, J and I went hiking up at a park on the Mississippi, and took a bunch of pictures. I’ll post some later. It’s the time of winter that I dislike the most: the brown melting snow and slushly, oil slick puddles everywhere. It’s dreary, without the pristine gleam of fresh snow to perk things up.

But, I did find the park beautiful in its starkness. The trees are barren. The grasses were dried up golden sticks in sharp contrast to the white-gray of the snow and the ice blue sky. But, I did notice something new this time. Winter provides an opportunity to notice things that you wouldn’t normally be able to see. That same dreary barrenness clears up distractions and hiding places.

As we were hiking, we noticed an small island in the Mississippi with a bunch of tall trees devoid of leaves. The trees were filled with large nests, probably hawk or eagle. And during the summer, we wouldn’t be able to see this, as the tree leaves would hide all these bird homes. The sight of all the nests towering in the trees was beautiful, again due to the starkness. At the same time though, they looked like a scene out of a Dr. Seuss book.

Watching the sun rise this morning, and the world outside just looks cold. The sky is stormy grey and ice blue while the sun rises behind the clouds. I’m sitting in the sun room checking my e-mail and blogging, and eating my breakfast. Today, it’s blueberry bread and milk.

After arriving at work yesterday, I learned my temp job got extended again. I’ve been there three months now. And that felt providential.

The book I’m reading (Writing as a Way of Healing by Louise DeSalvo) has been a good swift kick in the pants about discipline and being realistic and healthy about writing. That’s been good. And I’ve been writing. (As you can see, since I’m also blogging more often.) The words I can hear through her writing are ones that I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate had someone spoken them to me. I’m a mule that way.

Faithful Endurance

It’s Good Friday. The day that we Christians remember the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The weather here in Minnesota is snowy and dark. And as I am longing wistfully for spring, the heavy snowfall is a dark, almost oppressive thing. Spring lurks just out of reach and out of sight. I am eager for the shoots from the bulbs we planted, for our trees to bud and turn green. I am in need of endurance to make it just a few more days until spring weather and green arrives.

The disciples too were probably in need of endurance that evening before Passover. How disheartening must it be to watch the man you’ve spent the last couple of years following be arrested and crucified? Would it feel a bit like the end of the road? I have the advantage of being farther along in history, and knowing the end result of the story. For them, maybe Jesus’s promise to rise again started to look like a impossibility. Maybe their dreams and their faith were starting to crash.

I’ve been spending the last couple of days wondering why the lectionary includes the Hebrews 10:16-25 passage with these others that are so focused on the suffering servant and the crucifixion. And I found a link in this need for faithful endurance amidst a dark hour.

Hebrews is a letter concerned with endurance. In a culture rife with the need for instant gratification, I find this message relevant for me now. I hunger for fulfillment now–not 5 minutes from now, 5 days from now, or even worse 5 years from now. I want things immediately. As my husband can readily atest, I am not by any means a patient person about waiting.

This is not the picture I find in Hebrews. God does not always work on my instant gratification time table. God fulfills his promises, but the fulfillment is in God’s own way and God’s own time. Hebrews depicts a patient endurance as a result of faith in God’s promise–whether or not the promise is fulfilled in one’s lifetime.