Iron Mountain ski jump

Iron Mountain ski jump

Monday, December 18, 2017


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

[I wrote this reflection one December, when we still lived in Iron Mountain, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. As we always said, it’s a few miles north of the end of the world. Thus staying warm was a problem and a preoccupation for most of the year. I don’t know why I didn’t get around to posting this until after we moved away.]

WARMED BY MEMORIES       [M, 12-18-17]

I washed up last night’s dishes while the coffee perked. Now the sofa, fireplace flames dancing, first daylight dappling through the pines. First reading is a Psalm, then a Gospel pericope, [1] then a chapter or so from one of the OT prophets and from one of the other NT books. After I have read from the scriptures, I read some Marcus Borg or Anne Lamott or Philip Yancy.

I plugged in the light bar for Helen’s snow-covered village on the mantle. Why do people put little snow-covered buildings inside when all we have to do to see a snow village is look out the window? I think it’s so we have some control. That big white world outside the windows does whatever it wants. We can’t unplug it when we go to bed. In winter, it’s nice to have some control of the snow and cold.

The real way we get control of winter, get warm in winter, is with people and memories.

We’ve been going through stuff to get rid of as much as possible so our children won’t have to. I rediscovered my copy of The Wesley Orders of Common Prayer, 1957 Methodist Student Movement edition. Each of us who attended the Quadrennial MSM conference in Lawrence, KS at Christmas break of 1957 was given a copy. We used them in worship at the conference.

John Wesley, in bobblehead form, nods in rhythm when I tell him that I have not yet gone on to perfection, as he requires, but that I’m working on it. He doesn’t look convinced.

There were about forty IU undergrads who went to that conference in Lawrence, some of around two thousand students from all over the world, who converged on the University of Kansas campus. Loyd Bates, our Wesley Foundation [Methodist Campus Ministry] director at IU, rented a bus to take us. It was an old passenger bus, a step up from a school bus, but not a long step. He had to drive it since he was the only one of us with a proper license.

Problem was-and we didn’t know it until we got started-the bus heater did not work. It was really cold outside, and inside, too. The windshield kept frosting over. We boys [Yes, we discriminated by gender back then.] took turns standing beside Loyd as he drove and using a scraper on the windshield ice so that he could see.

We didn’t have time to find a place that might know how to repair a bus heating system, so we stopped at the Red Cross in St. Louis and got blankets. They had only twenty blankets, enough for one to a seat. When I wasn’t scraping the windshield, I shared a seat and a blanket with a cute blond that I barely knew. Her name was Helen Karr. We weren’t the only blanket-sharing couple from that trip to get married.

I know Jim Brown and Jan Rossow did, too, because after we had returned to Bloomington, and Helen and Jim got into a car with some other kids to go north to their homes for the rest of the Christmas break, Jan and I, the ones going south, stood in the middle of 4th Street and hugged each other and cried because we were going to miss the warmth of those seatmates so much. That is the way springtime love is, even if it’s in winter. [2]

It is good in the years of winter to remember the years of spring. They are not gone, not even over.


1] MS Word is not comfortable with theological language. It tells me that pericope [a set of sentences or verses that form a natural unit] is a misspelling and suggests I change it to periscope.

2] Helen took almost all her savings, $100, to pay for her trip to the Lawrence conference. Her little sister told people that it cost Helen $100 to get me to marry her.

I tweet occasionally as yooper1721.

I used to keep a careful index of topics and stories so that I would not bore readers with repeats. But that became cumbersome, and since this blog is primarily for folks in the winter of their years, I figure they won’t be able to remember if they’ve heard it before, anyway.

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