This morning it is cold once again, perhaps not as cold as it cold have been, but it is cold nonetheless. When it gets down into the teens and has a wind chill that takes you to zero or below, that is cold! We have really had the cold weather this January. I wasn't expecting to have below zero temperatures but we have had them. I don't remember a winter this cold for quite some time.
(Here the picture goes fuzzy and another time comes into focus, a time when I was much younger, had much redder hair and a moustache that was deep red.) In the winter of 83, I can remember driving from St. Louis to Decatur in my Olds Delta 88, light green with a vinyl top, after spending a weekend in St. Louis with Penny and two of our friends. It was the week before Christmas. I was attending classes as a student studying for the pastoral ministry at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis. Penny and our two friends came down to Christmas shop and to enjoy the food that St. Louis gives. We were driving back to St. Louis in the dark. It had snowed sometime before that so it was white outside, clear as could be. (I would say the full moon was high in the sky lighting up things so that with the snow on the ground, you could see a mouse running wildly from the owl that was out to have a feast - but I don't remember if that was the case so I won't.) That old car, a 69, had a big old engine that always heated the car nicely, except that night it was cold in the car. I can remember Penny trying to stay warm as we drove along. Now remember, this was the time before you had the car telling you what the temp outside was or a Iphone that would tell you what the temp of the town was, so we didn't know how could it was. We decided to take 55 to 72 instead of driving up highway 48 through Taylorville (which would one day become the road we would drive because I would be pastor at Harvel, IL). As we got close to Springfield, there was a bank with the time/temp sign. As we drove past, the sign said -18! Really! It was that cold. At that moment, we realized why the old Green Lizard (the name of the car) wasn't keeping us warm. Boy was it cold! It makes me shiver just thinking about it.
(Fade from that scene to another scene.) It is Christmas 1985 and we are living rural Osage, IA. I was vicar at St. John's Lutheran Church, a dear congregation that holds such fond memories for both of us. There was snow on the ground, had been since the 1st Friday in November when we had 9 inches of snow in the first snow of the season. We were learning what it was like to live in the rural area of Iowa. Christmas Eve came and we had the late service. It was cold, really cold. I can't tell you how cold because this was pre-internet and pre-cell phone and being a vicar, we didn't have thermometer to tell us what the temp was. I do know that it was below zero and there was snow on the ground. The skies were clear as crystal. The stars were shining brightly in the sky as we came out of church that night. Our breath would form a cloud of vapor in the cold air. As you breathed in that air, you realized how cold it really was. Looking up at the stars, I felt that it was the perfect Christmas Eve. In my mind, I could see the stable, the manger, the animals and a man named Joseph kneeling next to the manger, holding in his arms a bundle of cloths in which there was a newborn baby. There was the Child's mother, having just given birth (which I really had no clue what that was like as I was only married for under a year and half and we had no children nor were any children soon to be born to us). I felt like singing "Silent Night" and "Away in a Manger." And right there, the stars in the sky looked down where He lay, the little Lord Jesus asleep in the hay." I knew then what I know now, my Savior was born (not on such a bitter cold night but that bitter cold, still night air, just made for the picture perfect, memory making Christmas Eve).
(Fade back to present day) And having those memories makes me shiver again. It is cold out there, no doubt. Perhaps not as cold as it cold be, but cold enough for me. I am glad that we are getting this cold weather now, in the month of January. I am hoping and praying that when March gets here, the cold will be a thing of the past and Spring will come with its warm temps and beautiful days. I long for them as I pull on my sweater, knowing that I need layers to stay warm today. Will my hands ever warm up I wonder as I walk out the door going over to St Paul's Ministry Center to say good morning to our teachers.
Be safe. Stay warm. And revisit those wonderful memories of colder times that you might have, and long for those warm days sitting on the beach, listening to the waves wash up on the shore while the seagull cries overhead.