I am a parish minister currently serving the Eliot Church of Natick MA. Eliot Church is a Community Church affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Association and the United Church of Christ. Any statements made and postions held in "Unity," however, are solely mine(of course, they may be used with appropriate atribution). Therefore if you disagree, please do not blame the church!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

February 1

During the prayer at the Natick Rotary today, I gave thanks for February 1, the beginning of the end of winter. I am not a winter person. I do not ski. I sled very little. Mostly what I do after Christmas is fight through the snow to work and back and then hide out in the parsonage with my family, dog, books, and basic cable. After last week's storm, in fact, the walk to the church became downright dangerous as walkers were forced out into the street! Thanksfully, the sidewalks are now clear and that is a thing of the past. Or, at least, until the next snowstorm.

There are folks who like the snow and the cold weather and I congratulate them. My sister Kate, for example, has pretty much run the entire range of snow sports and loves them all. (I should say that one of the most fun and exhilarating experiences I ever had was riding on the back of her snowmobile through the woods at our parents' house in Maine. I let her steer and so I continue to live... ) I, however, am not one of those people. Therefore, it was with a certain hopefulness that I woke up this morning and looked out my bedroom window.... Alas! The snow was still piled up around Pleasant Street and the Charles River was (and is) still frozen over. Yet, life goes on, so I got on with my day.

February can be a cruel month for those who struggle during this season. The simple act of going outside can become a chore, particularly for those of us with children. With children also come the many interesting illnesses allowed to grow and mutate in our schools. Usually the kids recover quickly from the minor sniffles. It is Mom and Dad and Gramma and Grampa that take a longer time to bounce back. December and January have been a veritable sea of decongestants and cough medicine for many of us.

So, how do we win against the forces of illness, boredom and repetition? We must, after all, try to keep our spirits up even when things are down (Even for "winter people" things are down sometimes...right?). I deal with it by looking forward to big events, like Unity Sunday (Really!), and by going to church (when we don't have to cancel due to blizzard conditions, that is). Of course, for some, the tendency toward depression this time of year is much more serious. We all need to look out for the folks who really do need our help and help them when we can.

Now we are on the home stretch! We can start to look back on all that and try to remember that we are in February. While we cannot see the changes now, they are on their way. Lent is coming. Lent yields to Easter. Easter welcomes the spring thaw, the green grass, and the flowers.

I think of February as a good time to practice patience. Something good is coming but we have to wait for it. While we wait, the ground can still trip us up. This means the waiting, itself, can sometimes be a challenge. The patience we practice isn't the sort of grim stoicism that permeates the New England landscape. Instead it is the developing of an awareness of what is coming and the understanding that our journey from here to there is a process of wonder and discovery. When we find ourselves pushing through the cold, wet present, we can seek the small signs that point toward a brighter future.

This morning was cold. However, when I left Rotary at 1:30pm and started walking back to my car, I realized that it was too warm for my hat! It was a small sign, but an important one to me. The sun was out, the snow was melting (in places) and I could see the sidewalk peeking through holes in the ice. We still have a long way to go but we can make it. We can make it by practicing patience, by being observant, and by celebrating the good that we find every day.

Even in February there is some warmth. Even in the darkness there is light.

Amen for that!