Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. –JOHN WATSONAfter five years of being gone, I've forgotten what it felt like to live in Pennsylvania during the winter. Those times when the snow would come down at a hard, heavy slant thru the night all night - how snug and cozy our beds felt while we slept - and we'd wake to white wonderland. We would pull on snow garb, grab shovels and head outdoors, joining the neighbors all around us, and the crisp, cold air would carry the clunking sound of metal hitting concrete as paths were cleared. A few particular times, when I had a cold, I'd come in with frozen mess down my face from doing what had to be done, and there was nobody else to do it. Colds and flu had little to do with driveways needing cleared or there was no going out.
Generally the men started up and ran the big red contraptions, with magnificent blowing arcs of snow flying through the air, while we women cleared paths to the front door, then sprinkled everything with a layer of salt to keep it clear. When the job was done we'd all head back inside, peel off the wet, cold layers in a dripping pile at the door, and head to hot showers to thaw out.
There was a particular weekend when the snow came down in feet rather than inches, and we dug ourselves out, bundled up, braved the roads and headed to church. Only a small group of us made it, but the camaraderie of that service still sticks with me years later. We were an army who had just won a battle! We hugged and patted each others' backs, drank coffee and cocoa together, and considered how much more white stuff might come down. We sang and prayed and listened, then bundled back up to head home. I don't remember a word of the sermon, or precisely who was there that day, but I do remember feeling brave for having pushed through, not letting circumstances stop us. Little House on the Prairie come to life!
This year I want more of that, and not just with snowy roads. I want to live brave this year, to trudge through, do the hard things, drive the icy roads so to speak, then gather with those who were also brave to get where they are going. I want to choose that rather than huddling together with those who would talk about how scary life is, what we are all trying to avoid, how overwhelming it all seems. I want to BE brave, and be WITH brave.
On an given day there is so much of this life that requires a bit of bravery, like...
....a child with disabilities?
....an addiction that keeps raising its ugly head?
....a struggling marriage?
....finances stretched to the limit?
....possibility of a lay off at work?
....wanting to be married, but not?
....unexpected singleness, for whatever reason?
....those once held dear, who now wound?
....limitations aging brings?
....making choices to change, stop, start, go a new direction?
....speaking up about what you believe to be true?
....setting healthy boundaries with those who tend to run over you?
....starting over, again?
....reaching out, when you were rejected the last time you did?
....admitting being wrong, and asking forgiveness?
....seeing others through new eyes?
Today, here in the panhandle of Idaho, beautiful, fat, fluffy flakes of snow are coming down furiously, and the roads and sidewalks are disappearing under a blanket of white. We'll take Miss Lily out for her daily walk, trying to find spaces that have been cleared enough for her short, little legs, then we'll come back to our little home, where I plan to bake bread, start knitting a snow cap for someone, and clear out the kitchen pantry. I'll consider how brave looks in my own daily life, and how those I love and hold dear are choosing to live brave lives now, and I'll think of one to call and encourage, and be encouraged by. Perhaps you too?