Sunday, January 6, 2013

If Life Hands You Ice, Go Skating...

The home bodies are settling; the old house creaks and groans itself against the insidious frigidity of first days of the year. In the bowels of the house, it is as if a discordant organ has been set upon by the picks of the seven dwarves; pipes shake and rattle. Upstairs, the fire hisses; it is so still I believe I hear the needles fall off the crispy Christmas tree.

That's the way of it.  Before Christmas, the house swells like a sponge, taking on heat from warm ovens of baked goodies; light from candles, from every room in the house and a motley kaleidoscope of colored strands; and sound, of Christmas music of various vintage and that most cacophonous and welcome noise of all, the crashing tidal wave of a big family celebrating.  

But now it is January.  The merry days together  are enshrined in attachments to email. The nonpareils and edible glitter have been sucked into the sweeper and the majestic tree is fish habitat. We've sworn off eggnog.  The sun goes down early, comes up late, providing but cold comfort.  The W-2s have to be done and the politicians are insufferable. The need to cut calories removes even the consolation of chocolate and cookies. Gloom prevails.

Lord, I hope this day is good
I'm feelin' empty and misunderstood
I should be thankful Lord, I know I should 
But Lord, I hope this day is good

Lord, have you forgotten me
I've been prayin' to you faithfully
I'm not sayin' I'm a righteous man
But Lord, I hope you understand

I don't need fortune and I don't need fame
Send down the thunder Lord, send down the rain
But when you're planning just how it will be
Plan a good day for me

You've been the king since the dawn of time
All that I'm asking is a little less crying
It might be hard for the devil to do 
But it would be easy for you...... Don Williams

Isn't this a great set of lyrics?  How many days have I climbed out on my side of the bed with this kind of prayer muttered under my breath?  When I stumble down the stairs with a plastic tub of decorations, I say this prayer soundlessly, 'Lord, make this year a good one. Lord , help us make it through this year. Lord, keep me hopeful; help me face this year without worry, without dread.'

In our hearts, we don't intend to be so self centered.  We are praying for our loved ones as much as ourselves.  We don't mind struggle, but we want to know the ending will be a happy one: the game will be worth the candle.*

Hey, folks, its not heaven, it is Iowa.  The hymn reminds us to count our blessings; we are never promised prayer will be answered as easily as sitting on Santa Claus' knee.   I can testify that the most heartfelt, desperate, and wrenching prayer of the past year received a merciful answer, if not one without cost. Never forget, loving friends, that "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above"(James 1:17).  As our New Year commences, we would do well to be humble in our expectations, but hopeful, neither quibbling nor querulous in our requests.  

fer·vent  [fur-vuh nt]  
having or showing great warmth or intensity of spirit, feeling, enthusiasm, etc.; ardent: a fervent admirer; a fervent plea.
hot; burning; glowing.

Think fireplace; think hot tea in a mug; think hugs and high fives by a winning team.  Put on your warmest socks, your favorite fleece, and an in-your-face-winter stocking hat. Then carry the warmth of December with you and deal fervently with January and the uncertainty of the New Year.   

*This expression, which began as a translation of a term used by the French essayist Michel de Montaigne in 1580, alludes to gambling by candlelight, which involved the expense of illumination. If the winnings were not sufficient, they did not warrant the expense. Used figuratively, it was a proverb within a century. 

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