After more than a week of deeply cold temperatures and roaring, blustering wind the ice has come. Everything is coated in ice from the freezing rain, and from where I sit (right next to the fire) I can see that the icicles are getting noticeably longer as the day goes on.
I must admit, I love being unexpectedly homebound. There was good potential for this storm in the forecast, and the weather-folk kept referencing a serious cold snap and ice storm that occurred more than 35 years ago. I remember that storm well, from the three days without power to the constant noise of chainsaws cutting up downed branches and trees. With that in mind I made sure I was ready with plenty of firewood, dripping faucets to protect from freezing pipes, food that could be enjoyed cold or even better, warmed in the fireplace, and a mind made up to revel in the happiness of having one or two days at home without a schedule, by myself.
It’s taken time and practice to learn to live alone, and to be quite happy about it. As one of my elderly widow friends told me several years ago, “I’ve learned to enjoy my own company.” Part of that enjoyment comes from understanding where I find my contentment. In the winter if I have means to make a fire, have interesting things to read, to think about or to do, food to cook, some sense of order and beauty in my surroundings, small tasks at hand, and the absence of conflict I’m good for days by myself. For me, the kind of situation I’ve described makes room for rest and peace, and for thoughtful movement forward. It’s a time for restoring body, mind, and spirit, and for renewing faith.
This was supposed to be a church-kitchen cooking weekend for me, fixing lunch for the 30-40 people who would be un-decorating the church after the gathering this morning. They did me an enormous favor by cancelling Sunday gatherings yesterday so there was no ongoing concern or conflict in my mind about whether I’d have to try to get there or not. Folding loads of clean kitchen laundry this afternoon was one of those pleasant small tasks I enjoy. A good stack of hard-working blue aprons, dozens of bar towels, and several banquet length tablecloths. Stuff that my contentment is made of today.
There is so much unrest and uncertainty coming from nearly every direction, and sadly, more of the same in my workplace. At least I can turn off the media, but in my day to day Monday through Friday I carry a great weight of responsibility for helping staff stay true to our vision, and to treat each other with dignity and respect even when they don’t feel like it (which seems to mirror much of what we hear about every day). The flip side of that responsibility is to make sure that every client gets the very best of who we are, every single day. I believe wholeheartedly in what I do, but it can leave me utterly exhausted, worn out in body and spirit. Daily I pray the prayers of Solomon, asking for wisdom and for the insight to be a good and effective leader.
And that is precisely why folding the church kitchen laundry brought me to such a peaceful place today. Restoring order, quiet contemplation and thanksgiving, enjoying the feel of the textures in my hands, simple beauty—all good things that helped me enjoy my own company. I know it’s not likely to happen, but I have to say that I would really like just one more day.