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Pay Attention!

"Winter Woods" - artist Lawren Harris
It snowed here this week, which is not unusual for mid-November where I live. However, that first snow always makes everyone a bit crazy. Everyone exclaims about it, groans about driving, wonders if it's going to "stick." If you live somewhere where "cold" is 45*, then you probably don't get this, but it's kind of funny: this is only the beginning of a very, long cold stretch of weather. But that first snow...

I love winter. I like the cold and snow. It's beautiful in ways you cannot imagine. It demands attention. You don't walk out the door, out of the comfort of your warm home, into a 3* day with a wind chill of -15* and not notice. It's like a slap in the face. When you live 30 miles from Lake Michigan, you also have the joy of "lake effect snow," which essentially means that when a storm passes over the lake from Wisconsin or Illinois, it picks up steam from the relatively warm waters of the lake and drills you with snow. It's...attention-getting.

There is a magic to winter that no other season has. My foster sister, who had (until she came to Michigan at the age of 6) lived in the tropical paradise that was 1950s Cuba, still talks about the first time she saw snow. She HAD to go outside and dance around in it. She says she still feels the same magic at the first snow every season.

Nobody gets really excited about a nice, warm, calm, sunny day in July. We expect it. We notice that first blush of leaves changing in the fall, and anticipate the football games and sweaters we dig out. We love seeing a bud pop open in April. But nothing gets our attention like that first snow.

For nature, it's a time of dormancy - a death of sorts. It's a stillness. There is no quiet like the quiet of being in the woods in January, stomping through the snow and breathing hard that cold air. For many people, it's difficult - they don't like the dark, the cold, that stillness.

Yet, we NEED that stillness in our lives today. We have so much noise in our lives, and we are afraid of that dormancy, that stillness. And it's in that stillness that we can hear God's voice. In fact, it is ONLY in that stillness that we hear God's voice. God demands our attention in stillness...and we fight that. We want to fill it with music, and tv, and conversation, and the computer, and work, and anything to fend off the dormancy.

Just like winter demands our attention, so does God. Let the stillness of a January day be part of your prayer life. Be still. Be still and know God.

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Crossing Guard

I saw you
today
as you guided
your little man across that busy street.

You were wearing some
big man boots
and
watching cars and lights.

Your little man had on
black sneakers and
a Mickey Mouse hat
that bounced
as he walked.

He wasn't watching nothing but
your big man boots
and
the white stripes of the crosswalk.

Just before
he got to the sidewalk again,
his step bounced a bit
- he hopped over
a spot where the asphalt broke.

You turned to look,
holding out a hand to
your little man.
Not rushed or angry,
just making sure
he got up
on that sidewalk.

Then you walked on,
in your big man boots,
face into a cold Michigan wind,
with the little man behind,
his hat bouncing.