Week of February 3, 2019
“Brrrrrrrrrrr! It’s been cold outside!” As you know and have experienced, this past week has been quite cold and even windy at times, with low temperatures between 20 and 30 below zero. Here in Minnesota we are feeling Old Man Winter’s chilly wrath! Seems to me the second half of January is usually the coldest weeks in our calendar year. Maybe that’s why all our winter activities like: winter carnivals and pond hockey and fishing derbies take place. It’s because they know since the sun in low in our horizon at this time of year, things won’t melt. As “Minnesotans”, all this is just par for the course. We know it’s going to get really cold in January, so it’s no surprise to us. Although we don’t always like it, we embrace it as part of living up here in the North. We also try to use this to our advantage and see the bright side of our plight. This said, I would like to submit to you some positive reasons to appreciate this time of year and why our snow and chilly temps can point to a brighter side of our human and spiritual life:
1) When you and I take that first breath of cold air while stepping outside and when we feel that frost nip our face, it’s a sure sign that you and I are alive! If every day were the exact same temps, what would be the joy in that! Minnesota winters can make us feel invigorated in some sense!
2) Think of all the winter activities we enjoy this time of year: hockey, ice skating, snowshoeing, downhill and cross country skiing, sledding, snowmobiling, ice fishing, taking short walks to enjoy the stars and winter nights, and even indoor activities like basketball, pickleball. (Whatever that is!) We can do more indoor social events like enjoying a card club or gourmet group or just having an excuse to sit down with a warm blanket, a cup of coffee and reading a book. There is always something positive waiting for us to enjoy on the other side.
3) Thirdly, there is something both unforgiving and yet wonderfully beautiful about the cold and winter and snow. Think about it. God could have made the time of year very ugly and drab, but God did not! Who can argue about the beauty of a snowflake as it falls to the ground or how the snow decorates the limbs of the trees. No one can adorn quite as beautifully as God! Not only that, how about our own city lights which often cast a nice winter glow at night. And, if the sky is clear, the stars on a cold winter shine more bright!
4) Finally, (and maybe more realistically) winters in Minnesota make Spring and Summer that much more enjoyable after we come out the deep freeze during these months. It’s hard to take the warm-up of Spring and Summer for granted once a person survives winter’s plight!
I am sure there are many other reasons we can look at winter in a brighter light, but my point is this: I believe God has designed all things (large and small) with a great balance of challenge and yet opportunity, beauty and brawn, charm and deception, difficulty and relief in such a way that if taken in on deeper spiritual level in our Christian Faith, we can learn much as we internalize the rhythms of nature and our life. This is in turn can speak to us of the very mystery of God! So, the next time you step outside and the cold takes your breath away for just a second and you feel the frost on your legs and face, say just a prayer and be thankful that you are alive!
Peace! Fr. LeRoy Scheierl