The thermometer read 8 degrees as I went to turn on the car. This is the coldest it has been in this part of the world all winter. I know there are many, many other places where it is colder - I have friends and family that regularly tell me how cold it is where they live and how easy we have it in the mid-Atlantic region. And they are right. But still, it's cold here, cold for us - a shock to the system after unseasonably mild weather.
Each of us has a different understanding of extreme challenges, in the weather, with our health, with our finances or our family. Each of us has only the experiences, gifts and challenges that surround us. And some days are bleak, no matter how warm and sunny it is outside. Our common humanity sighs in this bleak midwinter, where ever we are, wanting more for ourselves, our family, our community. We want to be stronger, sleeker, and more in love with one another and life. And yet our frailties and poverty are most visible in the extremes of winter.
So, what do we do? Listen to the poets, the musicians, the painters, who express their story in their art, so that we can be connected with each other and God. Christina Rosetti, who wrote the great Christmas carol "In The Bleak Midwinter", ends her poem by say, "what can I give him, poor as I am? If I were a shepherd, I would give a lamb. If I were a wise man, I would do my part. What I can I give him, give my heart."
Our poverty, lack and need somehow are most evident on cold and challenging days. May this day be a sign for us to share what we have with God and one another - our hearts.