Congregational Life

Sick of Winter?

As I sit here at my desk in Dundee and look out my window, the pine tree that usually stands sentinel about 30 feet away has been reduced to a dark blur. I can barely make out the shape of my neighbor Pat’s house across the street. But it barely feels strange. This winter, snow, wind, and bitterly cold temperatures have become the norm. And the really sad thing is, we’ve still got February and March (and April) to go!

Life can be tough at this time of year. Garrison Keillor makes jokes about the hardiness of Midwesterners, the stoicism of Lutherans, the perverse delight that many of us supposedly take in these bleak winters: they make us tough. They make us strong. They separate us from the people who live in sun and warmth year round, according to him. That may be true. But even the hardiest and toughest of us Midwestern Lutherans can get worn down by a grueling winter. There’s something about constant wind, snow, and cold that can erode away goodwill and good humor and just leave you feeling a bit like a hibernating bear: hunkered down,

closed off, and hungry for something more sustainable than the memory of summer berries.

We may be Midwesterners. We may be Lutherans. But we have a need for Vitamin D and good old warmth just as much as the next person (well, maybe not just as much, but the need is there in us, too). And unless you’re one of the lucky snowbirds who are already basking in Florida/Arizona/Texas/California, we’re stuck having to make do without until spring comes again. So, how do we do it?

I have a vivid memory from preschool at my dad’s first call church in Tacoma, WA. I had to have been 4 or 5. I remember huddling on the playground on a chilly morning, trying my best to conserve what little body heat I had, when one of my teachers walked by, smiled, and said, “Move around a bit, Rachel! You’re never going to get warm that way!”

She was right, of course. Sitting still on the cold ground is no way to get warm. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that she was also right in a spiritual sense. Being stuck in winter can get you down. But just sitting still is no way to get spiritually warm, either. What might it look like for you to move around spiritually? Is there a way of connecting to God you’ve always wanted to try? Is there someone in your life who might be feeling down? Are there things you can do, spiritually, for God and for others, that just might break you out of your own funk?

A couple of years ago, Amo’s VBS theme was “Shine God’s Light!” I know my experience has been that when I stop worrying about finding some light for myself, and start trying to shine God’s light for others, somehow, it ends up warming me up, too.

May God’s light warm you, both inside and out.

Pr. Rachel