I’m Lovin’ This Winter

I’m lovin’ this winter.  I’ve been hearing lots of discontent from family and friends, about the record number of below zero temps and snow.  And yeah, I admit it’s gotten to be a bit much at times.

I’m tired of changing the towel that’s shoved into the grooves of my bedroom window, to catch the water leakage from the ice dam on the roof.  I look out that window and I can see the snow is now halfway up the side of that wall.  There’s a huge mass of icicles hanging from my one-story roof, reaching down and meeting the snow, the tips disappearing into the white ground.

And okay, neither am I thrilled with the below zero nights.  Especially when the negatives dip into double digits.  I’m tired of gating off opened cabinets to keep the pipes from freezing, or worrying about my shift-worker husband driving home on deserted roads at midnight.

Even the dog is driving me crazy. He runs into my office periodically and gives me wide, demented, cabin fever stares… right before he gets into some trouble.  (Poor baby).

I’m not even happy with the way our village ran out of road salt, much as many other communities have, and told us they couldn’t get sand so we would be driving on snow packed roads from now on.  Their sage advice was to avoid the hills.  Since my community is nothing but hills, I could only laugh at that advice.  I know the village is swamped with complaints, bless their frozen hearts, and I really do appreciate their efforts.  I am not one of the complainers.  But I do think that when they threatened us with liability for accidents in front of our house if we blew our snow into the road, perhaps they were over-reacting to criticism.

Yet, this morning, while I was out snow blowing the latest 6 inches of white, trying to widen the driveway (which is becomingly alarmingly narrow), and dislodging today’s chewed newspaper from the blades of the snow blower… I had to admit that I still wasn’t done with this winter.

I shoveled the snow from in front of the mailbox so the mailman could deliver my junk mail, went in and got the dog, and watched him struggle valiantly through the drifts to mark his favorite pine tree.  Then we just walked around a bit, enjoying the brilliant winter day.

Don’t get me wrong…. I love the other seasons.  How could I not?  When everything bursts with life?  I love gardening and summer flowers and the colors in fall.  But winter has always been my favorite season.

I love the feel of the cold air on my face.  It makes me feel alive.  I love the peaceful quiet.  It makes me feel safe.

I love discerning the patterns of growth in the bare trees, designs you can’t glimpse when they’re fully clothed in leaves.

The stark browns and grays that spring like charcoal drawings from a blinding white landscape.  And the way the snow coats the railings of the fence, or lays like vanilla frosting on top of giant evergreen pines.

Of all the seasons, winter always makes me think of God the most.  Certainly I pray more during winter!  For safety on the ice and the hope the furnace doesn’t die.  But it’s more than that.  The tilt and orbit of the Earth around the Sun, the never ending pattern of light and dark…. this is what makes our seasons, and all seasons are from God.  We could not exist without them.

The bible tells us that after the great flood, God promised Noah cycles of seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, without end, as long as the earth existed, (Genesis 8:22).  From the breath of God ice is made, He balances nature, and does wondrous things, (Job 37).  He gives snow like wool, (Psalm 147:16).

So call me crazy, but I think I have good cause not to join the voice of the dissenters.  You can bet I’ll be right there with you come spring, delighting over early crocus and that first lime green flush of new grass.  But until then?  I’m still lovin’ this winter!

Light Gets In Your Eyes

I have a friend who is a pain in the rear end.

She has volunteered me for jobs I had half heartedly entertained, but didn’t really want to do.  She’s bailed out on me at pivotal occasions, and insinuated herself into others where I would’ve preferred she not be and she often says hurtful or callous things, totally unaware she even insulted me.  She can be jealous, nagging, and pushy.

On occasion, we would have “words”, but this usually resulted in my walking on glass for several weeks and spending more time assuring her that everything was alright than if I’d just kept my mouth shut in the first place, and let the offense pass in silence.

My friend can dish it out, but she can’t take it.

Having said this, you might wonder why I still call her my friend.  Well, there’s always the thought that I’m probably not much of a picnic in the friend department myself.  Am I a pain in her rear end?  Being on the inside of me I have no idea, really, how I appear to others.  And bad as I’ve made her sound, there is also the side of her that is funny, warm, and a true delight to be with.  People are rarely only made up of one flavor.

But actually, my reticence to end this relationship really has more to do with the results of our friendship, rather than anything else.  Odd as it seems, my friend is good for me.  The times she has hurt me the most, are the times from which I have gained the most good.

Volunteering me for something I didn’t want to do forced me to tackle an area of my life that had been a problem for a long time.  The end result ended up having little to do with what I’d been volunteered for, the main thing was that my long term problem was practically solved, or at the very least changed to a much lesser problem.  It was a blessing, wrought through much pain.

In a very real way, my friend is also responsible for my creating this blog.  Her sometimes acrid remarks are honest, if not pleasant.  You can’t help but ponder the validity of her opinions.  Some of them are pure bull, but then there are those that are very insightful.  It was one of the latter than goaded me into action and developing this blog, vs. just “planning to, one of these days”.

The most important thing my friend has ever done for me though, is to bring me to God.  This is a funny thing, since my friend is not a Christian, nor affiliated with any organized religion, and I sincerely doubt our deep discussions of the human psyche were ever intended to turn me toward Christianity.  I’m not sure she’s even happy about it.  Yet it was definitely through her words that God brought me back to him, after many years of defiantly turning away.

Which brings me to light.  God is all about light.  The bible abounds with references to God, not only as the creator of light, but himself having the very nature of light (1 John 1:5, “God is light”).  The nature of light is to abolish the darkness and make seen what was previously unseen.  In this very real spiritual sense, that is what my friend has done for me.

Or rather, what God has done for me, through my friend.

Like a blinding flashlight, shone on my face, I can hold my hands high against the glare but I cannot abolish the light.  God has taken the very harshness of my friend and used it to illuminate my own weaknesses, my neediness, my fears.  Nowhere does his light shine brighter than in our darkest corners.  Or, so it would seem, through the people we least suspect.

So, if my friend is reading this (she knows who she is), just remember…. I may have called you a pain in the rear end (and doubtless you will obsess over it), but I thank God for the blessing of knowing you.  I thank God for the Light of you.  I thank God you are My Friend.