by the Rev. Barbara Threet
All last night the wind howled and raged. The thermometer stands at zero now, as dawn approaches, and the wind chill is nearly -20. There are scattered power outages, and for those who must be out repairing wires, this must be brutal. And with temperatures this cold, there may be those who didn’t survive the night. Branches are down and maybe trees too, blowing snow certainly made driving treacherous: it really was a wild and ominous night, even a dangerous night.
And yet, and yet…
At one point the wind stilled, and the nearly-full moon shown on yesterday’s smooth snow, blown now into fantastically sculptured shapes, bright and blue-white and absolutely beautiful. And that was part of last night too.
Had the night been serene and warm, somewhere there still would have been struggle or sadness. It’s always mixed, this life, and if yours (or mine) isn’t mixed right at this moment, it will be soon. And whatever ‘it’ is, ‘it’ can be seen from many vantage points, and interpreted in many ways.
The world rages and howls too. Impeachment, border walls, Syria, anti-Moslem policies in India and here at home, disappearing bees, starvation in Yemen and Zimbabwe, and the list goes on. And yet – great acts of kindness still happen: you may even be part of creating acts of kindness.
In my own corner of little hill towns in western Massachusetts lives a fiercely independent woman who provided excellent, low-cost child care for decades in her home, and now runs an after-school program (also ridiculously inexpensive) at a local school, a woman much loved and widely admired. She lives in a small, simple old house where the wiring probably hasn’t been upgraded since it was installed many, many years ago, and a power surge during a storm last summer destroyed all her major electrical appliances – fridge, washer, dryer, computer, TV, even the hot water heater. She told no one. She scraped together money for a mini-fridge and recently bought a new laptop, but the rest – she just lived without. And then a week or so ago she slipped, and on one cold day, she mentioned her longing for an actual hot shower, and the truth of her situation came out.
Yesterday, after a much localized GoFundMe appeal for $1,000 for her netted over $2,700, she wept. And so did everyone who knows her, and was overjoyed to contribute. Today she’s buying a new water heater. And despite all the ugly and scary and unfair and unjust things in the world, there is a spot of joy – in all our hearts.
May you find places to be part of bringing joy and brightness and hope to some corner of the world in this 2020 year: indeed, knowing this UUCGF congregation, I know you already are. You are a blessing, and each of you brings blessings too. Happy New Year.