I’ll tell you the story in a minute, but first, I heard a great joke that I wanted to share… Mr. Peanut’s last words: “I’ll be back in a jif…” Think about it…
We really didn’t have much snow on the ground here until very close to Christmas. In fact, I remember singing around the house, “I’m dreaming of a BROWN Christmas!” – as I could look outside and see still green grass of sorts, and not even a skiff of snow around the edges. When we put out our Christmas decorations, they looked a little odd, with no white background to make them seem magical. We even went out and hung up the artificial green wreath on the door to the gazebo, so we could look out from the dining room window and see it every day.
But as it always happens, when we least expect it, the weather changed a few days before Christmas. The forecast was for “significant snow,” and “gusty winds,” creating near-blizzard conditions. Sure enough, that forecast was spot on, because we woke up the next morning to everything covered in white, and the wind howling, and creating those near – you -know – whats…
In the course of the storm, the wind caught our little green wreath on the gazebo door, and yanked it like it was a frisbee, and sent it flying across the backyard. Neither Cheri nor I were really interested in trying to retrieve the thing, as it lay there all nestled in a little snow bed. A few hours later, the wreath was covered in snow, leaving a bumpy round image. A few hours after that, the blizzard had done its best, and looking out at the probably 9 inches of snow, the wreath was gone, buried and smoothed over, and we of course were left with the remorse that we probably should have gone out and picked up the wreath when we first had the chance.
Because you see, after that storm, the main gate to Winter was opened up before us. Weekly or sometimes every three day storms piled up the inches of snow all over, and then the arctic vortex sucked all heat from our world, creating what seemed to be the equivalent of hiking on top of Mount Everest in January…
All the while, our little wreath remained buried in the back yard. Buried that is, until we were able to break the bonds of a cursed freezing, stinking winter, and our temperature actually made it above freezing. Not far above, but with the sun shining on a late February afternoon, the yearly miracle began to occur: the snow and the ice that had hogged the blankets for the last three months finally loosened their grip, and our world started to melt. The sidewalks were dry – the streets were wet with the melted snow, and our driveway no longer was classified as a “deadly walking surface,” as the ice slipped away to the street.
More significantly, as we looked out into the back yard, we began to notice the faint outline of a circle. It wasn’t much at first, but as the days continued, it became evident that our Christmas wreath was starting to show itself, halfway to St. Patrick’s Day. Now, the path to the wreath was still pretty deep with snow, but we could see it was there. We even talked about putting on boots and trudging out to bring it inside… we talked about it, like we talk about a lot of things while we drink our coffee.
However, last week, the forecast suddenly went from a dusting of snow, which reminds you of powdered sugar donuts and the way you always end up eating them wearing a dark shirt on a windy day… it went from that, to “better bundle up – and keep those snow shovels handy!”
When we looked out the next morning, sure enough, our wreath was gone. AT least, it had disappeared again beneath the veil of a mid-to-late winter storm that did dump significant snow on us once again. I have to tell you that the population of our fair city did not wake up cheerful and humming a tune when they saw that what was so recently going away had come back again – kind of like a pimple on a teenager’s face.
However, God is good, and now once again, with a few hiccups, our world is melting. Late yesterday, we were able to see a glimpse of a green circle. We didn’t even fake it enough to suggest we go out and get it – I think we will wait until it’s all melted away. Our forecast shows highs for us in the 40s, which is a delightful temperature after hearing for weeks that we are going to make it up into the 20s if we are lucky..
So, this year, we gauged our winter by the measure of the Christmas wreath. Nothing much intentional to see here, wouldn’t you agree? No one put it on the ground, and as yet, no one has picked it up. The snows came and went and came and went, and it looks like they may be gone “soon.” But what a different way to approach life itself, leaving everything to chance and only a possibility. Now, to be honest, this exercise didn’t matter – we had invested probably $11.99 in the wreath, and it by no means was a core part of our Christmas celebration, or a part of hardly anything, except watching the snow rise and fall.
But I would urge you to end the accidental nature of living at that point, and begin to live intentionally and purposefully in the parts of your life that do matter. Live that way for your families, and for your other loved ones. With another image – put your feet on a rock, and push off to purposefully fly and discover what God intends for you as well. It’s a good day to begin, won’t you agree? After all, it’s almost time to retrieve the wreath…
Word for the day: Hiccup. You know how to pronounce it… it is fascinating, because similar words occur in almost every language: French “hoquet,” Danish “hikke,” Persian “hikuk,” and even Hindi “hickki.” The word is known as a onomatopoeia, or a word that is written to reflect the actual sound that is made by something. Like the word, “hiss,” or “thump,” hiccup is what it does. The first part of the word is the actual sound: “hic” (no one really says the last half), and the last half means “little” – so when you hiccup, you are making a “little hic.” Everyone – even babies in the womb – hiccup. The longest recorded hiccupping belongs to a farmer in Iowa, who hiccupped for 68 straight years. Can you imagine? Most doctors believe it is a spasm in the diaphragm. The best cure, of course is to take a spoonful of white sugar, and put it in your mouth, and let it dissolve. Works every time. Funny little word, don’t you think? Nothing cuter than a baby hiccupping, by the way.
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.