Ohmygoodness! I do not like the cold! I don’t like having to put on another layer of clothing if I’m going to be outside for any length of time. I don’t like the arctic blast that sneaks its way inside the house any time a door is opened, even for a short time. And I don’t like that my car sits in the driveway instead of in a garage, waiting for me to scrape the ice and/or snow off the windows before I drive anywhere. I really don’t like the cold!
Maybe it’s because I was born in the heat of summer. Or maybe it’s because the first six months of my life we lived in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Or maybe I’m just a wimp.
Whatever the reason, when it is cold like this, all I want to do is stay inside, lounge in my warm and comfy jammy pants, and drink hot chocolate or tea all day.
And if you are sick, like I have been much of this week, you can get away with staying in your pajamas for the day. Still, our four-legged babies need to be fed. As do the birds. And the squirrels.
And you might get to stay inside if you have a deadline to meet that prevents you from helping clear the new-fallen snow from the driveway. Or the back deck. Or even the front steps to the house.
So I have truly come to appreciate those dear ones who run snowblowers to clear their own snow and their neighbors’. And the dear ones who plow open driveways and parking lots, streets and roads. And dear ones who tend to their critters in all sorts of weather. And dear ones whose livelihood depends on their braving the elements, day in and day out.
Driving home after an evening of church activities, I glanced out the window. I dared not look for too long, lest I hit a slick patch in the road. Still, I found myself diverting my attention again and again. Covered in a blanket of snow, the field glistened and sparkled like a myriad of cut diamonds in the winter moonlight of a near-full moon.
Had I not ventured out in the cold I would not have seen the God-crafted beauty to behold. Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat
Mr. Pat and I were thankfully able to miss the snowstorms, both here and in Ohio, as we traveled to Cleveland on January 9 and flew back home a week later. We had gone for medical reasons and stayed a few days longer in order to spend some time with his family there.
Driving a rental car is always a grand experience. What better way to recognize that your vehicles back home have fewer bells and whistles or are older than you think?!? Aside from missing several turns and paying tolls twice because we had to backtrack, we made it to Pat’s sister’s home in time for a late lunch. Again, thankfully we had ample time that afternoon and evening to relax, check the weather, and plan for our trip into Cleveland the next morning.
Because … a commute in rush hour traffic with snow coming down is not a whole lot of fun. This time, thankfully, we had no missed turns. Found the parking garage without a hitch. Easily found the skywalk which took us straight to where we were headed. And there were bathrooms everywhere we turned around, it seemed!
We had good visits with medical specialists that day. We had great visits with family all week. We looked through items his mother had saved through the years. School records, artwork, and 4-H ribbons. We made photocopies for genealogy purposes. Family photos, saved funeral folders, and newspaper clippings. And we reminded ourselves of common family traits.
We had a most delightful flight from Cleveland to St. Louis. Within a few minutes, we learned that Doris, sharing our side of the aisle, had been a nurse and volunteered for the Red Cross, had gone back to school for her masters in nursing when she was 40-something, had worked at Cleveland Clinic during that time, then taught classes related to caregiving for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. Mr. Pat had also been a Red Cross instructor. I had gone back to school for my masters when I was 40. She has been the organist and choir director for their Lutheran church for 50+ years. And then Pat shared with her why we had come to Ohio. To hear good news.
I don’t think it is a coincidence that Doris sat with us on that flight. Thanks, God, for all goodness. Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat
In this season of Epiphany, after Christmas, may we hear in a new way the words of the late Howard Thurman. Thurman was a mystical, prophetic preacher, active in the civil rights movement and a mentor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Thurman studied with Rufus Jones, a and joined the Wider Quaker Fellowship in the 1960s.
Thurman was also dean of Rankin Chapel at Howard University of Washington, DC, and later, dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston University. He was an African-American theologian, educator, and a prolific author. His poem, “The Work of Christmas,” appears with the writings of others in the book Black Fire: African American Quakers on Spirituality and Human Rights. The poem, in this slightly different form below, is from Howard Thurman’s book The Mood of Christmas and Other Celebrations, published by Friends United Press.
The Work of Christmas
by Howard Thurman
When the song of the angels is stilled,
When the star in the sky is gone,
When the kings and the princes are home,
When the shepherds are back with their flock,
The work of Christmas begins:
To find the lost,
To heal the broken,
To feed the hungry,
To release the prisoner,
To rebuild the nations,
To bring peace among the people,
To make music in the heart.
Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat
I don’t know how it is at your house, but we have the tradition here of leaving our Christmas decorations out (and up?) through the twelve days of Christmas and Epiphany on January 6.
And why is that? Well, I could say that “it’s always been that way,” but that wouldn’t necessarily be true. It is “this way” for us for a variety of reasons, which have come to us over time, and all of which made perfect sense at the time a reason was revealed.
We have to put the Christmas dishes away first after hosting Christmas dinner. This was an early reason, but we haven’t hosted Christmas dinner in forever. Still, there are tables and counters to clear because we had whipped up a cheese ball or baked pies last minute, or stayed up late wrapping Christmas presents. So first things first.
Thank you notes for Christmas gifts received must be written, and what provides impetus better than seeing those gifts still under the tree? My rule: once the thank-you is written, THEN you can enjoy the gift!
A related reason is that sometimes, make that oftentimes, I am in the process of sending Christmas cards and/or letters, and being visually reminded by the lighted Christmas tree and the nativity atop the piano helps keep me in the holiday spirit until the project is complete.
But the real reason we have learned to wait to “un-decorate” is because we celebrate for twelve days, not just one, the birth of Jesus and the fulfillment of God’s promise to save the world from sin. Then on Epiphany we celebrate the visit of the Wise Ones to the Christ child. A visit made possible because they followed the star. In faith that led them to the Light. The Light that shines for all the world and into the lives of all people.
As people of the Light, may our light so shine.
Grace and peace … --Pastor Pat