I had to do it. Cliché as it may be – I have to write about the cold. About the polar vortex. About how all you see are frozen eyebrows peeking out of massive winter hats. About how everyone around you is bundled up so tight that we do the vortex waddle – that clumsy “I have too many clothes on but at least I am not freezing” waddle.
I have to write about how everyone is so cold they forget to be mean to each other – and how refreshing this is. About how even the homeless on these Boston streets are non-existent because the polar vortex has overtaken the most hardened and has them running to shelters. About how I almost slip on black ice, but I catch myself, and breathe a deep sigh of thanks in the sustaining grace of God. About hot water – and how I pray in my hot shower. How I pray that those who are cold will be warm, that those whose hearts are walls of ice, will feel the breath of the spirit melting the hard, cold wall into a warm puddle of vulnerability.
I have to describe the way we, a society of individuals who “do by self”, collectively walk with one purpose – that of making it to a place that is warm. We are resolute in our goal and we move as one down the city streets.
I read a story about a man in Kentucky who escaped from a minimum security prison, only to turn himself in as the temperature dropped and his prison khaki couldn’t sustain the cold. He walked into a motel and asked them to call the police – better to be in prison than out in this cold. This is what the cold is doing to people! When an escaped prisoner turns himself in you know it’s cold.
We are equator people in an arctic world. We are made for warmth and light, color and joy. But we walk in solemn black and grey, heads covered, eyes down, as though in mourning. The only conversation heard among people is “Stay warm” “How cold is it outside?” “How far did you have to walk in the cold?”
Equator people in an arctic world. Made in the image of God to know the love of God. Made to enjoy him forever, yet surrounded by ice that keeps our hearts cold to that love, unable to move past the arctic chill, that stubborn defense against all that is good, all that is holy.
But a polar vortex can’t last forever. Already the temperature is rising and the winds of warmth are coming. In the first book of the beloved series The Chronicles of Narnia we see equator people in an arctic world. Narnia is frozen under the spell of the white witch. All is cold and grey. Evil lurks in shadows and neighbor turns on neighbor. All of Narnia feels the oppression of the white witch and a world where it is “always winter but never Christmas.” But words of hope come that Aslan is on the move.
“They say Aslan is on the move—perhaps he has already landed,” [said Beaver]. And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different…. At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.”*
For equator people in an arctic world this is hope indeed. That Aslan is on the move. That warmth will come. “Heaven has cracked into this cold, dark world yet again – and nothing that collides with the holy can stay the same.” from Addie Zierman, “Stumbling into the New Year”