It is cold up here in the mountains! On Sunday afternoon we arrived at our new home in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and were welcomed by an overnight low of about 18 degrees below zero. Some reports put it at 24 below; others said it was only 14 below. I don’t know exactly how cold it was, but it was cold enough.
We opened the cabinet doors under the kitchen sink and kept the water dripping on all the faucets just to make sure that the pipes didn’t freeze. The last time we lived here, we practiced this ritual in the parsonage whenever the mercury dipped below zero. If we didn’t, we would be waterless in the morning. The joys of country living!
Cold does something to me emotionally. It makes me cautious. I am more careful about where and how I drive, just in case I get stranded in the cold. I am careful how long I stay outside, how far I walk, and what I wear. I have been on the phone with the propane company making sure that I have enough propane in the tank. It is not the type of weather to run out of heating fuel. I have some wood for the woodstove, just in case.
The cold makes me very aware of my vulnerability and mortality. It makes me more prayerful. I prayed while driving here from Pennsylvania as the auto thermometer read below zero for hour after hour. I prayed for others on the road. When we arrived in New Hampshire, I prayed a prayer of thanks. When I woke up the next morning and found my pipes intact and the furnace running, I prayed another prayer of gratitude.
The cold makes me feel my dependence on God. I realize that if I lived here a couple of hundred years ago – back when my church here was founded – then the cold could have killed me. So could a myriad of diseases that are treatable now. When transportation was horse and wagon and not heated automobile, one risked one’s life to travel.
You could say that the cold is good for my soul. It makes me very thankful to God. It makes me grateful for what I have. It makes me more appreciative of friends. The cold fosters community. People here find occasions to get together for meals and fellowship. Cabin fever is a real malady up here. The cure is fellowship.
The cold also encourages fellowship with God. Not for everyone of course. It keeps many away from church rather than bringing them out. Many Yankees just hunker down at home and tough out the winter months. But the cold has the opposite effect on me. It melts my heart and softens my soul. It strengthens my spiritual bond with God and others.
Don’t get me wrong! I will be glad to see the spring come! I will be thanking God for the muddy roads. (Look for a blog on “mud season spirituality!”) But in the meantime I will practice the spiritual discipline of cold weather spirituality. They are predicting a low of 16 below zero this Sunday. Perfect worship weather!
Photo by Betsey L. Josselyn