The cold wraps around me. Like an unwelcome guest, it breaks through my skin and hits my bones. Iowa excels, once it hits freezing it decides to keep falling, skydiving and hoping that the rope catches before zero. I sky-dove once and was sore for days. I didn’t feel immortal. Gravity pulls, always pulls, towards solid ground as though it wants to consume everything into itself whole and entire. The dirt stops it. We don’t fall into the earth’s core because of dirt and earthworms.
I have hairs in my nose. I forget about them most of the time. The only time I remember them is when my breath turns to steam and comes rushing out of my lungs to gleefully greet the atmosphere only to be shocked motionless at my nose hairs. Mini icicles form in my nostrils, reminding me of their existence. FEAR, like gravity, pulls insatiably towards the depths. But earthworms don’t stop it. It’s a sinkhole for the soul. It will encompass you like the cold and seep into your pores, leaking by osmosis into your bloodstream. It doesn’t belong there, but given the right permeability, it will let itself in without knocking.
Window frost occurs when glass is not properly insulated. Most of the time the inside air and outside air know their places, neighbors that have conversations only in the warm Spring or Summer months, maybe even when the first chill of Autumn heralds and the novelty of it causes windows to fling open. Frost breeches civil niceties. It senses the warmth and moisture inside and in the cold of winter, creeps up the window under the pseudonym of Jack and makes pictures on the glass. Most of them are pretty.
Fear is not pretty, but it does creep. It doesn’t belong inside us. It craves our peace – not to abide in it but to devour it. It feeds on peace like hoarfrost, it makes our green souls aged and grey before their time. Caring not for dermal layers, it dives deep into our veins with its icy breath and spreads like frost in the night. Only it doesn’t leave pretty pictures. It etches into the heart like a Blackhorned Pine Borer. The borer rarely chooses healthy trees. It chooses stressed ones, the kind that have low defenses to creeping things. It injects larvae and they do their work, eating away at life.
Souls are trees. Sunshine, water, roots in healthy dirt – these provide the nutrients needed for survival. If the pine borer has taken a limb, it must be cut off. Cut off the old man. Embrace the incensive power of the soul. Find the rot and be rid of it. Be thankful, always thankful. Where you are not, you will find discontent and hungry larvae winding their way under your bark. Cling to joy and in its warmth, the frost will melt. Grasp to truth and the deadly pestilence will flee. Angels will guard you, they will protect your toes. That’s what the psalmist says. Gravity will always pull and fear will always creep but the souls of the redeemed will soar. In the moments of clarity, insulate your windows.
I remember eating with you on Christmas Day, after the most fearful time of your life was over. As we ate, the windows fogged up with the warmth of those of us breathing breath through our nose hairs as the snow began to fall outside. And we cried. All of us cried. Because of the beauty of the frosty windows, because of the significance of the snow outside the windows on that day, of all days, and because your little girl who had come so close to death but then came closer to life, attacked that hot fudge brownie sundae with the vigor of any healthy, 19 month old girl.
Fear and gravity can’t hold a candle to love and peace. And joy.
Peace be with you during this blessed advent season, my friend. Thank you for writing this.
Oh, dear friend, yes. That day held so much bright promise and was heavy-laden with every emotion imaginable. Thankful we were all together. Thankful for chocolate sundaes piled high with whipped cream and a baby girl who could dig in after having a feeding tube for weeks! It is a previous happy memory.
You have described truth and hope….both are freeing. I will read this over and over until the word pictures etch into my black and white thinking . I am thankful for you…..always thankful.
Mom, the sun always rises to disperse the darkness. Both are real, both are deep. As are you. Thankful to have walked through valleys and climbed mountains with you through the years.
Thank you Nicole for your good and beautiful words. I needed to hear this message as my bones are cold and my heart too often is cold.