In the Bleak Mid-Winter





We’re getting our first snowfall of the season and it’s shaping up to be a doozy. I drove home late from the downtown office because I brought my laptop and work home with me just in case the weather gets as bad as they say it will. School is likely to be cancelled tomorrow, which will be disappointing to our kindergartner who was all set to bleat her one-word line in the Christmas program…as a sheep. I had to dig the shovels and snowblower out of the shed since we haven’t used them in almost ten months. Late winter/early spring 2012 was very mild. This meant I also needed to fill my two-gallon gas can with the 2-cycle engine mix so I ventured back out into the elements, taking my camera-phone along for the ride.

I’ve been meaning to post this video for a few weeks after discovering the poem by Christina Rossetti in the back of my breviary. Even without the snow it has seemed bleaker than bleak for some time now: economic and political stagnation, news filled with horror stories and a media all-too-seemingly eager to showcase the worst of humanity. It’s not just the frosty wind that moans or the earth that stands hard as iron. Just as water freezes to stone our hearts are susceptible to doing the same if we’re not careful and leave them exposed to the elements of this world for too long. Only just this afternoon I wrote to a long-time friend of mine, exchanging Christmas greetings and discussing one of our favorite topics: Middle-Earth and hobbits. She asked me how my Christmas season was going and this is my reply. I apologize in advance for the language, but emotions remain raw as they will for some time. It is the recognition of that rawness that has forced me to discipline myself from commenting or writing on a subject too painful to grasp.

As for my Christmas, well….it’s been a struggle this Advent. I have to be honest. Since the election I have been in a massive funk trying to wrap my brain around the mind-set of the country, but when the tragedy of last Friday occurred in Connecticut I went numb. I have largely avoided the news, the internet and even Facebook. As we both have children that age I know you understand. Having a child of any age…but they were 6 and 7. What a complete fucking bastard. I’ve had to withdraw from the media to keep my sanity. I’ve instead immersed myself in prayer, my family, my parish, any good works or service I can provide…anything to keep moving forward and avoid not just the news of that awful day, but also the political football those who would seize a political opportunity have made of those poor children and people before they are even buried.

To keep from falling into loathing hatred or depression I serve. It is in serving that I love. And that’s what keeps me from collapsing into a blubbering zombie.

That is what I’ve done. Looked anywhere and everywhere for ways to serve, one fellow human being at a time. It does help, and when my eyes are on others they are not on myself. That has made all the difference.

During Midnight Mass next week is probably when I will release it all and let it go. I hope the people sitting around me can ignore the sobs of gratitude and release.

In the bleak mid-winter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak mid-winter
Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him
Nor earth sustain;
Heaven and earth shall flee away
When He comes to reign:
In the bleak mid-winter
A stable-place sufficed
The Lord God Almighty,
Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim
Worship night and day,
A breastful of milk
And a mangerful of hay;
Enough for Him, whom angels
Fall down before,
The ox and ass and camel
Which adore.

Angels and archangels
May have gathered there,
Cherubim and seraphim
Thronged the air,
But only His mother
In her maiden bliss,
Worshipped the Beloved
With a kiss.

What can I give Him,
Poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd
I would bring a lamb,
If I were a wise man
I would do my part,
Yet what I can I give Him,
Give my heart.

We have only a week of Advent waiting to go. The good news of course is that Heaven cannot hold Him and into the stable of our hearts He comes. To we poor, small people He comes.

May we react to Our Savior’s coming with as much exuberance and jubilation as our family’s 10-month old beagle Buster did tonight when encountering snow for the first time.






4 thoughts on “In the Bleak Mid-Winter

    • Thank you Stephanie. He had an absolute ball burying his nose in the snow and sniffing around before taking off and bounding around in circles in the backyard. He didn’t seem to mind it a bit. I just wish he would have paused long enough to let me get a clear photo of him, but he was having too much fun (and that’s the main thing, right?). 🙂


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