Brrr....it's so cold out here in Michigan that venturing outside is a feat. Boots, my longest, warmest parka, hat, gloves, scarf. Just to go get the mail at the end of our driveway! Imagine my irritation when I finally get there and find out the mail hasn't come yet! Trudge back up the icy driveway (very carefully) to take it all off, one by one, in the laundry room, which is quickly becoming a mud room! Now I know where the name originated.
It can be pretty difficult to stay focused on the positives and count our blessings in these extreme, dangerous temperatures when we're all cooped up inside and dreaming of Florida (which I hear is pretty cold right about now) and spring. But thankful we must be. For warm clothes, central heat, and an oven with a piping-hot lasagna in it. A fat and soft kitty I can shove my cold feet under and he doesn't mind or hop off the couch. Cozy family movie nights while wrapped in warm blankets with popcorn. A coffee pot that delivers my morning java. And I am thankful to God for all of these blessings, believe me. One story in the local newspaper about a family who has no heat and is using a space heater to keep her and her children warm makes you shut your complaining mouth pretty quickly.
But then there are moments...You forget that you are one of millions going through the same thing. You slip and slide all over the road and you scowl at your filthy car, covered in dirty snow and salt. (Yes, I'm thankful for road salt)! My boots seem to be leaking. School is constantly cancelled, pipes are freezing. Our windows are drafty, and you can't even have your eyeballs exposed in these dangerous negative wind chills. This winter seems so looooooooong. IS IT OVER YET?
A whitening snow squall happened to pass through the Target parking lot yesterday morning as I was inside looking at hand lotion for my very dry skin and looking for someplace to escape the winter doldrums.
"Mom, look outside!" I heard a young lady say to her mother in awe. My head jerked up to see Old Man Winter blast its fury. I shook my head, sighed, and put a small bottle into my red cart. Just another day in Michigan.
A cashier named Barb scanned my lotion, shampoo and oatmeal.
"I heard it's pretty bad out there," she said. I nodded.
"I think people are going to go crazy with this weather," she joked. "They're going to go running around in the streets saying, 'I can't take this anymore!'"
I laughed at the absurdity, then remembered the latest local newspaper headline that read Enough Already! Michiganders' sentiments exactly. Maybe Barb wasn't joking after all! We've all had ENOUGH!
It was then that I noticed she was wearing a beautiful gold medal. I leaned in for a closer look.
"Blessed Mother?" I asked her.
Her face lit up in surprise. "Yes!"
I pulled out my own chain I wear around my neck and showed her my Miraculous Medal and St. Therese medal. We smiled at each other, a little Catholic connection at the Target checkout. You don't get too many of those. It's not that there aren't enough Catholics out there beyond our parish doors. There's something like a billion Catholics worldwide. It's just that not too many people like to visibly wear it on their sleeves (or around their necks), I guess. Barb told me she has a special devotion to St. Therese, another thing we have in common.
"Blessed Mother will never fail you," she said with a look of love on her face.
"That's for certain," I said as I put my wallet back into my purse. We chatted a bit more and I felt my mood lift.
"God bless you," Barb said, as she handed me my receipt.
I smiled back at her and said, "God bless you."
I perked up as I walked outside to the parking lot. The squall had passed as quickly as it had come. The Holy Spirit had sent me a warm moment with a complete stranger. Barb had filled my soul with a little Catholic sunshine.