Though winter has not officially arrived according to the calendar, the weather has dealt my area a nasty blow of cold, snow, and wind. Temperatures plummeted from highs of 45°F to below 20°F in the past week. Tuesday’s clouds delivered four to five inches of snow in less than an eight hour period. The winds, ranging from 10-20 miles per hour, along with long periods of gray cloud cover, have made it feel colder than what the temperature on the thermometer indicates.
On the bright side, Tuesday’s snow covered the ground and trees with a beautiful blanket of sparkling white flakes. The winds also died down a bit after the snow, creating a peaceful scene for Wednesday’s appropriately named Full Cold Moon or Long Night’s Moon.
My dogs and I stayed out late Wednesday night, watching the moon and the thin clouds moving in the sky. It was an awesome experience, one that reminded me of how great nature and God’s power can be. It was also a good reminder of how to find the light amid the darker times of life and how faith leads us to where we need to be in time.
Finding a Way
The weather this time of year historically makes my running and biking expeditions challenging. Several years ago, I adopted an “I will try to go no matter what” attitude, which often walks the fine line between determination and stupidity, yet more often than not leads to feeling better in the long run or even better, a once-in-a-lifetime experience with nature and the opportunity to capture it with a camera.
This week was one of those weeks where I had to get creative and dress warm in order to run and bike. There were two days when conditions were beyond ridiculous for me to even attempt, so I had to resort to running on the treadmill instead (which I absolutely hate, but have learned to tolerate). I also had a few days when I had to cut my run or bike ride short because of the cold. This is more acceptable to my mind, for at least I know I tried, and it is in trying that we build both character and faith.
Winds of Change
Each day this week, I found myself honing in on the wind. During one of my bike rides, I realized I was pedaling hard, but not getting very far because the wind was against me. When I turned around on my route to head back home, the wind was at my back, making for a much easier ride and more pleasant experience. My mind started thinking about how often in life we face the wind, sometimes rising to the challenge, other times falling or retreating until conditions change, allowing us to move forward once again.
While running one day, I started thinking about how the wind is similar to faith. If we have it with us, we can do great things and accomplish much. If we are trying to work against it, then we often have issues and face difficulties for which we did not plan. St. Paul illustrates similar thoughts in Hebrews 11.
Regardless of our direction, both the wind and faith lead us to change over time. As we mature, we realize how to allow both the wind and faith to work in our favor, how to use the power of each more wisely, and why both are important. Though the changes we face may be both wanted and necessary or unwanted and unnecessary, the wind and our faith offer us the opportunity to better accept our circumstances.
Winds of Time
On another run during the week, I pondered how the wind comes and goes, just as people, places, and things come and go throughout our lives. My thoughts turned to many friends and relatives who have passed away in December and how influential each of these people were in my life. I should mention that December is historically not a good month in my family, for we have lost some of our closest relatives during Advent (from the Latin word ad-venire, meaning “to come to”) and the Christmas season (the time of year when Christians remember and honor the birth of Jesus).
Two of these losses have been especially difficult for me. The first is that of my grandmother, who passed away December 14, 2013. Though it has been three years, the emotions at times are still raw and cut to the core quickly. This year, the snowfall on December 13 was very similar to the snowfall my area received on the day Gram passed. Now every time we get a snowfall like this, I think of Gram and all the adventures and misadventures we had together.
The second is that of my dog, Luke, who passed away in August of this year, but whose birthday is December 20. Trying to deal with the emotions that came along with his passing has proven to be quite the task. Luke hated the cold and snow, but loved Christmas and all the mischief it allowed him to get into with ripping open packages, eating ornaments from the tree, and stealing Christmas cookies cooling on racks right out of the oven. For the first time in over a decade, I was able to decorate, bake, and wrap gifts without having to yell, “Luke, NO!”
Despite these losses, my family and I have moved on with life as best we could. Sometimes the wind and our faith help us, and other times we find ourselves battling these invisible forces of nature. Regardless of the situations and surrounding circumstances, time has helped us to start the healing process and to gain perspective for the miles that remain.
Winds of Life
Last night, the winds died down long enough for me to run and get a shorter bike ride in before dark. As I ran and biked, I thought about how exercise can breathe life back into the mind, body, and soul. I also thought about how lucky I was to be able to do some of my favorite activities in the middle of December with the snow all around me and a bit of the sun still visible amid the gathering snow clouds.
Watching the steam of my breath as I moved along my route, I realized that the wind brings us both life and death to different degrees, and our faith is what allows us to fully experience this life. I also thought about my dog, Luke, and how he brought many different winds and much faith into my life.
This post is for everyone out there experiencing the winds of both life and faith. It is also in honor of my dog, Luke, and the many winds of change he helped me endure upon my journey of faith.
May we all find what we need through the winds of life and faith. May our paths allow us to gain perspective with the help of others and nature’s forces. May we learn to accept our journey wth the help of time and faith in the wind.
Faith in the Wind
Like a little man in your black tuxedo,
You took my hand upon life’s road
And led us through
More than an adventure or two
With your boyish grin
Leaping with faith in the wind.
Like a teenage boy lost in wonder lust,
You took both of us
On a rollercoaster ride
Through this life
Time and again
Leaping with faith in the wind.
Like a gentleman,
You held my hand
As you led the way
Down the path we didn’t want to take,
Yet had to,
And now you
Are waiting for me with the angels in heaven
Leaping with faith in the wind.
In Loving Memory of Luke
-Lisa A. Wisniewski
Resources and Related Links
Benefits of Exercise on Mind and Body – http://www.helpguide.org/articles/exercise-fitness/emotional-benefits-of-exercise.htm
Christmas – http://www.history.com/topics/christmas
Full Cold Moon – http://farmersalmanac.com/full-moon-names/
Hebrews 11 – http://www.usccb.org/bible/hebrews/11