Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Saturday, December 19, 2015


CHRIST IN WINTER: Reflections on Faith for the Years of Winter… ©

It is almost the heart of winter. Two more days is the winter solstice. It will be the shortest day of the year. The fewest hours of daylight for any day all year. The pansies don’t care. “Bring it on,” they say, turning their pretty faces into the frosty wind.

The pansies are in a wooden pot on the glass table on our patio. Helen hasn’t watered them for weeks. Or tended them in any other way. They don’t care. They keep on being their own jolly multi-colored selves. Against all odds, without any help, they survive.

Wait a minute, though. These are pansies. Their very name means weak-hearted, fearful, running-away at the thought of danger. When Frank Barone, on that TV sitcom about everybody loving Raymond, wanted to ridicule his sons, he called them pansies. We did that on the playground when I was growing up. You pansy!

We discovered while living in the UP, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, a totally pansy-unfriendly place, where winters are 13 months long, that pansies lasted longest, and most colorfully. Who wouldathunk?

So why is it that they have such a reputation for weakness? Because they once ran for president. Those who manage political campaigns learned about 30 years ago that the way you win is to attack your opponent at hisher strongest point and claim it is hisher weakest, and reverse the process with your own candidate. “That war hero guy is actually a pansy and our guy who got three deferments is the one who is the really tough guy who will defeat our enemies.”

All you need is enough money to say it about a ten thousand times on TV, and the vast majority of voters will pay no attention, but they’ll overhear it as part of the general sounds in the air until when election day comes, they’ll say, “Oh, yeah, that gal who served two tours in Afghanistan is the pansy. I’ll not vote for her. I’ll vote for the CEO who laid off her father so he could get a big bonus. He knows how to deal with those kinds of people, whoever they are.”

So, pansies, don’t run for office. Just keep smiling out there on the patio, looking in at the rest of us, snug and warm in our houses. Keep smiling at us in the storm as you make the world a better place just by being pansies.

As for the rest of us, we need to be very careful about disrespecting pansies.

John Robert McFarland

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