One Cold Winter Day

by Scott Eagan

One winter morning, I awoke to an icy world. Overnight, our beautiful snow had been pummelled by a billion tiny raindrops into broad sheets of slippery ice. The ice was so beautiful, so appealing, but also deceptive and dangerous. The only thing to do to protect people from slipping was to cover the brilliance, at least the paths, with sand.

As I was loading up the sled with heavy shovelfuls of sand, I meditated on how the world can be a slippery slope. Without the grit of the Gospel to give traction, we can easily slide and take a bad fall.

Later that morning, tired from the sanding, I sat down with a mug of hot herbal tea. I stirred in a teaspoon of our own honey and tasted the sweetened brew. Suddenly I realized that the Gospel is like honey. It sweetens what is bitter or pungent in our lives, making it easier to accept.

In the afternoon, while working in our bush (forest), cutting firewood for the next winter’s fuel, my eyes were opened to the beauty of our well-thinned forest. Once crowded with trees, it was now opened for sunlight to filter through and saplings to grow.

What about my life that so easily gets too crowded? This forest gave me the desire to simplify my life and the realization that it can be done. Like thinning the forest, this is hard work, but it has a heavenly reward.

There was still one more thing for me to learn on that cold winter day. In the late afternoon, I helped in animal care. There were six calves that needed to be fed fresh, warm milk.

One calf, Clyde, had gotten hypothermic in the barn and had been moved to the warm workshop. Even with the special care he had been given, he was still a bit thin and wobbly on his feet.

I gave him his evening meal, and knowing that the mother cows usually lick and nuzzle their calves while nursing them, I imitated her by stroking his back and neck, chin and sides. I wanted him to prosper.

It struck me that, while essential service to God’s creation is obviously necessary, loving care must go beyond this if healing and recovery are to take place.

It’s amazing how much God can teach us on a cold winter’s day.