The wind is roaring up in the pines this morning, but it still hasn’t gotten all that cold. I’ll go get some sand at the Town Garage and spread it at the Childcare in an hour, not because it has frozen but because it soon will freeze. The map shows the second cold front sweeping down through the Great lakes, and the radar shows the lake-effect snows already blossoming downwind. Temperatures are likely to go down as the sun comes up. (Click maps, or open to new tabs, to clarify and enlarge.)
It is a very cold looking map. Not only are isobars showing a direct discharge of air from just south of Hudson Bay, where temperatures are touching -40°, but the associated high pressure over Nebraska is not a loner, but followed by further high pressures coming down the Canadian Rockies. Cold is likely to make the news this week.
(Click this Dr. Ryan Maue map from the Weatherbell site to enlarge, and then click again to enlarge further.)
Joe Bastardi and Joseph D’Aleo have been warning this cold was coming, even last week when the computer models were showing last weeks cold fading away and a nice warm-up starting now. Therefore I have been taking no chances, and behaved as if it would be a real job to stay warm this week. I’ve gotten extra wood and a couple bags of coal, and yesterday I behaved as if the slush would soon turn to stone, and stay stone for a long time, and therefore I should remove as much as I could while it was still mobile stuff.
I hinted to my middle son and youngest daughter that it might be nice if they got some exercise by pushing some slush off the drive, but they were too busy being spiritual to help. Spirituality, this particular Sunday, involved fasting.
I myself don’t see what is so spiritual about fasting. It seems to make people more crabby rather than nicer, and also it makes them too weak to help a dear old Dad push slush. Nothing, in my opinion of yesterday, is quite so spiritual as pushing slush off a driveway.
Pushing slush is also a good activity if you are in the mood to grumble and grouse. It is a bit like singing the blues, in that you go on and on in a sort of misery, and wind up feeling better.
I had a lot to grumble about, because after church I was informed some people considered me a bully. I was astonished. Me? A bully? However some felt I had been too hard on our ex-pastor, who dramatically resigned after the Christmas service. I suppose I might have been kinder and gentler with the man about the fact our congregation had dwindled from a hundred down to only forty, however I figured facts are facts and we should face those facts. A lot of the sermons were about a thing called “accountability,” and suggested if we did not hold each other “accountable” we were guilty of a sort of sloth. So I held the pastor accountable. Apparently I wasn’t suppose to look beyond the congregation to the pulpit.
Anyway, as I pushed slush around I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. “Sometimes you can’t win for trying.” If I didn’t speak at church I’d be slothful, and a bit of a coward, but if I did speak I was a bully. Things seemed hopeless, especially when I went over to the childcare and saw the entire lot covered with an inch of slush. I walked across pushing the shovel, and looked back at a single stripe of wet sand on a vast expanse of yuk, and just about quit on the spot. But I kept on going, back and forth and back and forth, grumbling all the while.
It slowly grew dark as the sun set behind the dismal overcast, yet it didn’t get dark. The nearly full moon was shining above the clouds, and the overcast was lit by a muted glow. After taking all day to nudge above freezing, milder air was finally gusting in, with some puffs surprisingly mild, and the next cold again. Back and forth and back and forth I went.
I wondered if any of the parents would appreciate my work, when they dropped off their kids in the morning. I was doing it for them, so they could walk on sand, and not glare ice, or slush covered with a skim of ice. Probably they’d be in too much of a Monday hurry to notice. That’s how it goes, sometimes. All around us are signs of people caring, but it goes unnoticed. The very shirt on my back was made by someone in Asia caring. Back and forth and back and forth I went, with my mood slowly improving.
I thought about my kids fasting, and how that theoretically denies the self. Sometimes it in fact gets one very focused on the self, especially the stomach, but in theory it is the spirit refusing to be ruled by the flesh.
Then I thought about pushing slush. In a sense that is putting pleasure aside, and putting the self aside, to focus on making walking easier for others, and therefore is a sort of fasting.
So is speaking the truth, even when people call you a bully for speaking. You put your own comfort aside, and accept a decrease in personal pleasure, to do the honest and truthful thing. It is another form of fasting.
Perhaps that is what spirituality is about. You become forgetful of your self, and busy loving others. You are not doing it for the recognition, and may in fact wind up feeling like Rodney Dangerfield, but there is a glory in it, for suddenly you pause, and look back, and the entire entrance of the Childcare is free of slush. The job is done.
I headed home in a much better mood, seeing the moon start to peek between the hurtling overcast, and the branches toss in the sky over the road and the moon-shadows dance in the street. Pushing slush seemed a great thing, a sort of spiritual therapy or yoga, conducive to revelation.
As I walked into my happy home I started to tell my wife about my revelation, and after listening a while she said I sounded like the fifty-eighth chapter of Isaiah. Curious, I looked it up, and saw exactly what I was glimpsing had already been seen, 2700 years ago.
Some things never change, and, along with human grumbling, one of those things is Truth.