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welingerinwinterscarf

Scarf designed by Christiana Lambert for Knotty Tie, Co. in 2016 (sewn by an employee who is a resettling refugee).

I have all the words—and they’re just running rampant in my head and not getting out into the world. I have so many words that—forgive me—I’m not going to find it possible to “mind the metaphor,” as my friend used to caution.

I returned to work just under a year ago (anniversary date=02.01) and have yet to find my way back to my writing routine. But what a year this past year has been—exactly not the year for me to go silent. Heck, what a week it has been.

How many of us have been rendered almost speechless daily by the changes wrought on our nation? You’re just trying to do your part by performing the work you are paid to do and then you come home to discover yet another congressional action or executive order has happened—and you are stunned. Stunned that what it meant to be the United States of America can change so radically in such little time.

As I sat in church this morning, I listened to lessons from the lectionary (a three-year cycle of prescribed bible verses that many churches follow) that seemed hand-picked for just the times in which we are living. Coincidence? Not likely. Micah 6:8’s exhortation to “do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God” and Matthew’s beatitudes (the “blessed ares” that turn the power of this world on its head) as well as 1st Corinthians’ talk of the seeming “foolishness” of following Christ’s ways are words I needed to hear to remember that God is in charge—even if His not-so-subtle message is that we’re going to have to walk our walk for Him in the days and months ahead.

I have one writing prompt this week and it’s to write a prayer to pray at choir this coming Wednesday. What follows is my brainstorming for my assignment. I originally chose that date because Wednesday is almost Candlemas, which is celebrated on February 2. Traditionally in the church, February 2 is the day that commemorates the presentation of the infant Christ in the temple, as the date follows 40 days after His birth. Candlemas also was when families would bring in their candles to have them blessed for the year ahead. We here in America celebrate Groundhog Day on that day as we look for a furry critter to predict whether spring will arrive early or come as planned. From a strictly chronological viewpoint, February 2 is halfway through the winter—a time when we either start to wonder if spring will ever come or when the slightly longer days remind us that spring’s arrival is getting closer.

This year it seems we are stuck in the darkness of this particular winter of our discontent. We can hardly look ahead to spring. We are a nation in discord with members of our own families, with neighbors, and with other people of faith—as well as with our traditional enemies (both personal and national). Well, that groundhog has already seen the shadow—and it is the shadow that holds our prejudices and fears as well as our turning away from the pain and suffering of others.

But Candlemas is all about blessing the candles—which were the only source of light for homes in the days before other light sources were invented. Those simple sources of light were all people had to brighten the remainder of the year. In other words, the Presentation of the Lord is the ceremony that reminds us that He is the Light of the World. And that we who follow Him are called to be that light not just in our own homes, but also in our home that is this earth.

I don’t have a clue as to how we’re going to fix this mess our country is in, but I know God does. He knows how He’s going to mend the fractures amongst people who follow Him as well as with those who profess another faith and those who profess no faith. And I think it’s going to look an awful lot like people walking their faiths in order to bring about light.

In the words of Henry David Thoreau, “We loiter in winter while it is already spring.” No matter what the calendar says, we have all the light we need to fight this darkness and bring on a period of growth. I’ll just continue my quote-fest here by adding the motto of my alma mater (Wittenberg University): Having light we pass it on to others.

Having light (that means we already have it!), WE pass it on to others.

I can’t tell you why but during one of the darkest national times in my experience during one of the traditionally darkest months of the year, this typically stoic Lutheran kept wanting to throw her hand up in the air while singing about the beatitudes in the hymn “Blest Are They” (by David Haas and Michael Joncas). (Might it be God, perhaps?)

Providing blessings and bringing light into this current world is going to look a whole lot like walking—walking among those who are poor in spirit—for theirs is the kingdom of God.

(c) 2013 Christiana Lambert

(c) 2013 Christiana Lambert

Winter finally blustered back in once when we were settling into a lovely pseudo-spring. Just last Thursday we were enjoying 60 degrees and sunshine and now the thermometer has gone so low as to almost hit zero. I blame two people for the severity of this abrupt weather change since they seem to have forgotten the old adage of being careful when telling the Universe what you want. A few specifics surrounding their requests might have helped.

First our niece Alex said she really hoped for snow on the ground for her February wedding, scheduled to take place outside in the foothills of the mountains—well, not only did she get it on the ground as well as falling from the sky, but she also received arctic temperatures to preserve all that white stuff. Perhaps she should have suggested specific snowfall amounts and limited the temperature drop? But, hey, thanks to well-positioned heaters as well as guests who knew enough to wear accessories such as long johns, snow boots, and whatever else we needed to stay warm enough, her magical winter wonderland wedding ceremony did go on outside. After she got the white wedding she desired, she and her Mr. Right and everyone else got a whole lot warmer by moving into the venue’s snug—and well-heated—stone house for the remainder of the evening.

And then there is my husband Sherman who has had to plow the family’s commercial building parking lot five times since last Saturday—yes, that includes the morning before the wedding, the morning of, and the morning after. At this point, he’s grateful he could recover somewhat by skipping the task Tuesday and Wednesday before returning to take up the plow yesterday and this morning. You see, he decided he wanted to put together a bike for the upcoming spring riding season, but mentioned he spent all his savings and his birthday money on the first few pieces he bought. In order to start building he would need to earn some extra cash—which I think the Universe interpreted as a good reason to keep bringing him snow jobs. Maybe he should have expressed a time frame so the Universe didn’t feel so pressured to do it all in one week?

Now the Denver area has topped all previous snowfall records for February. Coincidence? I think not, Alex and Sherman.

I—thanks to picking the right year to upgrade both my snow boots and winter coat—am still capable of enjoying the corresponding beauty, even though I didn’t ask for any of this extreme weather. Last month when I scheduled my upcoming massage, I didn’t think to ask the Universe to provide the funds, but provide it did—the funds, that is, as well as the slightly more achy back from all that pushing the snow blower.

Well done, Winter—welcome back. Now that we’ve received much of the moisture we were missing—some of which we likely did request—let’s talk about March. No need to keep us quite so cold or snowy in the coming weeks, is there? As for my husband’s bike, he’s too tired to put it together yet anyway, so his parts can wait. And Alex is back to the desert, living happily ever after—well as happily as she can live away from the snow she misses.

Here’s a request, Universe. How about a little rest from the daily snows for now? That seems specific enough, and, yet, somehow I bet you find some wiggle room in my words. Which leads to one more request: please be gentle in how you surprise me with your interpretation of my request, OK?

Yeah right. Thanks anyway!

The Midwesterner in me has almost forgotten what winter can really be like. Wasn’t it just last year that the flowers in the built-in beds on the back porch did not die off until December? Even though much of this fall has seesawed between heavy, wet snows and balmy sunshine, the extremes have been even more intense than is usual in Colorado. This week’s deep freeze has brought lighter snows, as well as revived memories of how cold winter really can be—and it’s not even winter yet.

Pinwheel in snow

(c) 2009 Christiana Lambert

I wanted to hunker down inside, especially after the weak sun had dropped from the sky, but two nights in a row my kids have had school events. As I hurried from not-so-warm car to warmer indoors, I was reminded of how bitter cold feels like a thief come to steal my last breath. Despite my protests otherwise, I am still an asthmatic, something I can almost forget in milder winters, especially if the air pollution isn’t too bad or I don’t get colds or flus.

My hands pick up every draft in buildings. Although I am cold year-round in the theatre, Tuesday night’s concert, spent seated next to the inside brick wall seemed even harsher, even though I wore my “creepy” compression gloves. The plaster wall in the auditorium last night felt a little less cool, but it was far from warm. My shoulders ache from involuntarily contracting in an effort to stay warm.

Oh, how spoiled I have been—and still am. The heat in my house stays at 68 during the day and I snuggle deep under warm blankets at night as the temperatures fall much lower, something I only notice as I foray out to the bathroom—or to let out a dog who does not know enough to stay still all night. However, if I stay up a little later than normal, the programmed drop in temperature sends me shivering to bed.

So this morning I contemplate whether this will be the winter when I might have to pay to run, from time to time. Today’s reasonable temperature forecast of 28 is tempered by a wind chill that might not lift. Of course, my inner former Nebraskan chides myself that I’ve encountered worse. The sun is shining and the weather is supposed to be much nicer than it has been. And really, it’s supposed to be 45 by Saturday.

I’ve bought another sweater for dealing with indoor chills. I’m looking at getting an additional pair of long underwear. I already own some warm high-tech running gear—which leaves me much better prepared for winter running than in those frigid Nebraska and Ohio winters of my youth. Now I just have to get myself out of my chair.

Wouldn’t my pioneer ancestors think this was a silly dilemma? They had no choice but to feed the livestock and keep moving, no matter the weather, no matter how low tech their clothes might have been. Of course, they also had no need to run for fitness—their whole lives were a fitness exercise.

Ah, this winter’s return exposes just how soft this modern woman has become.

Just deal with it already!

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(c) 2009, Christiana Lambert