Many of you have experienced the deep freeze in South Jersey this week. The temperatures have dipped so low that frostbite is actually a possibility. The snow lies on the ground, not melting. I have heard from several people that this bitter weather is highly unusual for this area, and though the roads have received treatment and people are bundled up to the eyeballs, few people are braving the elements. I have not seen any snowmen on front lawns. My grandchildren want to go outside, but with their parents protesting that it is too dangerous, they have stayed inside to play on their new Kindles or legos or tents, or they have watched movies and read books. The adults are groaning about how cold it is, how the heat is not on in the church, how their cars have ice on the windshields, and how their sidewalks and porch steps are covered with ice. And then someone who hates winter puts a meme up on Facebook that says “The first person who mentions the heat of summer will be punched.” Seriously? Then I will be punched.
The problem with the heat of summer is that there is no way to get completely cool. Yes, there is the pool in which you may plunge your burning body, but how long does that cool feeling last? It lasts only until you get out of the poor and dry off. Yes, you may travel to the beach, but a sea breeze is the only thing that can really cool you there. Yes, you can eat ice cream until your tongue freezes, but that only cools the interior. Yes, you can go nearly naked, as many people do. Nearly naked. I say. Have you seen that? On the beach you see nearly naked people all the time. It’s a wonder. People are so proud of what is showing the world. Maybe I’m just too sensitive to the subject of modesty.
One advantage to the cold weather is that you can wear layers. Those layers keep the heat in to protect you from the elements. If you get too hot, peel off a layer. Can you do that on the beach? I think not. The clothes of winter cover a multitude of problems. You wear a sweater over a shirt and throw on a scarf to cover your neck. You wear jeans, wool pants, long corduroy skirts with leggings or tights to insulate the lower quadrants. Need I explain the contrast to summer options, many of which reveal some of the most frightening and disturbing aspects of humanity? I think I will stop there.
The cold puts a little skip in your step. The brisk air puts a little sparkle in your eye. The crisp weather creates an atmosphere of togetherness, a warm fire, coffee or tea, hot chocolate with marshmallows. The bleak mid-winter reminds us that the scent of the Spring is on its way. The crocuses will be popping their lttle purple heads out of the snow soon. The robins will be bopping around the yard looking for worms, reminding us that new life is on its way.
If it weren’t for the Winter, we might not appreciate the other seasons. Winter also reminds us that sometimes our hearts grow cold toward people we love. Sometimes our hearts grow cold toward God. This is a good time of year to foster those relationships by warming up with a cuppa and some family, friends, or a Bible. Peel off some of those layers as you warm up, and let those relationships renew a warmth that we dearly need.
Hang in there. Heat is on the way.