Bringing us together for warmth
by Rebecca Lister
Let me begin by saying that I am not, in any way, shape or form, a winter person. I do not look forward to the coming of weather that requires itchy sweaters, bunchy coats and hats that make my hair look ridiculous after I take them off. Whether I like it or not, though, winter inevitably comes.
The dawning of 2018 brought with it bone-numbing cold, not just for those of us in the northeast, but all up and down the eastern seaboard. We celebrated New Year’s Eve, shivering but determined, with our glasses raised—and we were inside, not outside at Time’s Square! Throughout the whole season, I gathered with friends and family members not only for celebration, but for warmth.
Winter does that to us. It brings out our most primal instincts. I think that is winter’s purpose: to make us realize that, when we are alone, we feel cold. We do not like sitting in the darkness by ourselves. We long to be with others, to be encircled by their strong arms, to feel the warmth of their hands on ours. For centuries of winters, humans have gathered around fire pits and gazed at the shadows on the faces of loved ones.
We have listened to stories and shared our own, reveling in the spirit of warmth that draws us ever closer. Perhaps we are not gathering around fires as often in modern times, but we do seek others places of warmth and light, too. We huddle in the kitchen around the oven, waiting for whatever deliciousness is baking in there, wafting its scents to our waiting palates. We sit on our couches, feeling the rhythmic purring of a cat on our lap, or the steady snoring of a dog lying on our feet. We light candles around the house, watching the flames shudder as they dance and sway.
We turn up our electric blankets to “high” so that our beds will be toasty when we crawl under the covers before we sleep in the depths of the night. We wait for the earth to, ever so slowly, be drawn toward the sun as the darkness of winter begins to dissipate. Until that light and warmth returns, though, let us pause to enjoy how winter works on us and gathers us together.
More importantly, let God continue to be the ultimate source of warmth to our shivering spirits. Let us seek the solace and comfort of his arms and stoke within us the fires of compassion and understanding. Let each of us strive to be a “Light of the World” as Jesus urged us, reaching out into a wintry world that so desperately needs it.
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16
Rebecca Lister is an associate professor of music at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pennsylvania. Her passion is music and worship in churches. She has had several writings published in the academic field of music.