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The Lord is my strength and my shield; my hearts trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. ~ Psalm 28:7

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

"Extra! Extra! Read all about it: Winter Cold Freezes Kindness"

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless."
~ Mother Theresa

Old Man Winter. Jack Frost. February Freeze. All of these words conjure up seriously icy images. Unpleasant cold creeps into my bones even as I type (perhaps it's the draft sneaking up the open basement steps, or just the sub zero temps hurtling at my windows from the wind storm outside, or even the sound of "Mr.Freeze" battling Batman on the Lego Wii game). In any case, it's cold. Freezing. Brrrr. <teeth chatter here, for added effect>

By about this point in winter, I'm done, toast, I quit. I'm fairly certain most everyone  this side of the planet agrees.  It's not just the snow. It's the blustery cold. It's the rains that turn to ice that turn to snow that freezes solid surfaces faster than you can blink. It's the fact that my "mouse-chewed" corn pillows have been retired to the trash, and I'm left to try to keep warm by layering even more clothes on top of the 4 layers I already am wearing.  It's the "thrill" of walking kids to the bus stop, sliding down the drive, waiting while the wind hits from every direction, only to have to walk up the hill, sliding sideways, as the wind hits from every direction. You get the point.

All this griping and moaning from a woman with a well insulated, well heated home. From a woman whose gas bills can be paid without incident. And yet, here I sit, knowing full well my blessings, but still being a bit grumbly as my teeth continue to chatter.

With that being said, one thing I've noticed as the winter wears on is the rather unpleasant "fend for yourself" attitude many folks have adapted. Thankfully, the people who are in my daily life are anything but this type of person. However, as I head to the shopping centers and banks, I see fewer people being willing to hold the door, to wait for the person struggling to get through the slush, to take the shopping cart from the young mom juggling two kids and grocery items as the cold nips at her back.

I'm amazed to see the longer winter lingers, the less tolerance people have for....well, other people. Lots more horn blowing as folks impatiently travel through the melting mess. Lots more "head down, don't look now" moments when the "beggar" asks for a donation. Lots more "hurry up and wait" scenes as people rush to get in the store, forgetting about the people behind them who can't move quite as fast.

It makes me more than a bit sad. Wasn't it just a 2 months ago, as the Christmas season barreled down, that the cold, snowy scenes gave us a feeling of goodwill toward men?  Where "peace on earth" oozed from daily greetings as the new fallen snow made it all look so charming? 

What changes in two months time? So it's still cold. So what. That doesn't mean we have to let our hearts turn icy toward one another.

Case in point...As I was returning some light fixtures today at a local hardware store, there was a LONG wait. Even though I had a 4 year old saying....."WHENNNNNN      ARE WEEEEEEEE     EVVVVERRRRR      GONNNNNAAAA   BEEEEEE    DONNNNNNNEE?????? <my own emphasis NOT added here...This was ALL him. Truthfully. He sounded just like this>,  I cheerfully told the cashier today "Enjoy your day, and stay warm!"  She looked at me so gratefully, as if she was fully ready to take yet one more verbal lashing that the cold seems to spur on from people.

Now, don't get me wrong. I was cold. Tired. Hungry. Annoyed at the delay. Double annoyed at the nagging 4 year old. And late for my kindergartner soon to be arriving home while I waited for a dreadfully long return. Easy to get aggravated at her, right? But how much better was it to let a little sunshine into both of our days in such a simple way?

Driving home, the sun was out, the snow was melting and my car was toasty warm despite the winds whipping outside. Couldn't help but thing how differently both my day and the cashier's could've gone had I allowed my freezing state of being affect how I interacted with her.

My challenge to you today....despite the subzero temps outside, let the promise of spring brighten your spirit so you can share it with others. Oh, sure, we'll still be pretty cold here for a while yet. This IS Western PA, folks. And it IS still winter. And I have serious doubts about this whole groundhog prediction method. But we don't have to be frosty toward one another.

I chose to open my thoughts with Mother Theresa, and I think I'll close with her same words again:
"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless."
~ Mother Theresa

Have a warm, toasty today and tomorrow:)

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