A joyful heart warms the cold

The car door froze shut last night, and I couldn't get it open this morning in the wind-driven snow.

With considerable tugging and the destruction of some expensive weather-stripping, I eventually opened the passenger door, climbed across the gear shift and the parking brake to the driver's seat, and got the car started. I overcame the obstacle course again and exited on the passenger side, left the car warming, and shoveled snow from the deck and the front steps.

We're short a car because one is undergoing expensive repairs that we can't really afford at a nearby shop, so I'm the driver to get Laura and Amanda to work and home from work at the end of the day. That means I'll drive snowy, icy roads for two or three hours.

I'd rather sit at the computer and try to finish a book, a story, or an essay. I really need to write today instead of fighting winter, because I need to earn money to pay for car repairs and other pressing needs.

The car warms enough to thaw the driver's-side door. I open it, reach in for the scraper, and start scraping ice from the windows. I look up from my windblown task and see Lydia, a third- or fourth-grader who lives next door, emerge from her house to begin her walk to school.

She stands on her snow-covered lawn, opens her arms wide, and embraces the wind and snow blowing into her face. Obviously, she loves being outside this morning. She dances in the wind and snow and looks up toward the dark sky. Her expression is one of happiness, of joy.

She moves her arm close to her face and studies snowflakes on the sleeve of her coat. She raises her head, opens her mouth, and catches flakes of snow on her tongue.

She begins her journey toward school, a journey that is as much a dance as it is a walk.

Lydia sees me standing by the car with the ice scraper in my hand, and she says, "Hello." I say, "Good morning, Lydia. Thank you." She looks puzzled that I have thanked her, but she sees friends walking toward school, and she runs to catch up with them.

I might have found it difficult to explain to Lydia that I mean thank you for reminding me. Sometimes I forget what is meaningful. I let what I think of as problems overwhelm me. I become grouchy, and I find it hard to emerge from grouchiness.

Any moment of beauty I miss because I'm absorbed in problems of existence, I miss forever. The moment passes. If I look for and appreciate the beauty around me, no matter what else tries to absorb my attention, I will lead a much better, much easier life.

Cold wind blows snow against me. How beautiful to be alive this morning, to be out in the wind and snow, preparing for a drive through the snow-covered landscape with people I love.

I see, feel, and smell the beauty of the cold snow blowing in the wind. I see the beauty of a child's spontaneous dance to winter, and I enter into that beauty. I dance around the car, and I resume scraping ice from the window. I feel the vigor of a cold winter day.

I feel the joy of an existence that has been startled back into appreciation.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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