Friday, January 8, 2010

glitten up the gray


Christmas brought snow. The new year brought ice. Epiphany brought a deep chill that has settled over much of the country, pressing down on us during the short days and dark nights. These are the things of winter gray and they can make us do silly things.

I love the tundra because it is never too much for the seasoned veteran. Once you agree to plan ahead and put fashion aside, you are warm enough - even on days like today. One of my favorite pieces of winter equipment? A pair of glittens - that's glove|mittens. Every pair I own are colorful with a hoodie for my fingertips when the wind starts to whip or I'm scraping my windshield. They are stuffed into pockets, purses and glove boxes, worn so often that my parishoners have started to notice my manus flair.

Today I was visiting a beautiful woman I see often. She loves to tell stories and I listen, wondering if I only care about each random collection of tales because I care so deeply about her. Some were new and some were the old favorites I hear each visit. I played with my glittens as she talked and somehow they were back on my hands before we reached for each other to pray. I started to take them off again, but she stopped me. "Keep them on - they're beautiful and cozy and I want to touch them while we pray." And so she rubbed my fingers through the soft wool, smiling as we declared Amen together.

Before I left, I snooped around the curtain that divided her room. I like to check on roommates at nursing homes for all kinds of nosey and well-intentioned reasons. Sometimes they are sawing logs or crabby, but usually they're curious and lonely. While this curious stranger didn't speak much English, she was glad I had stopped over and offered me a seat on her bed. She reached for my glittens and I let her hold my hands. She traced the colors with her long fingernails, then gestured toward the curtain. "You are her family? You listen to her stories?"

Come to think of it, yes. It's what we all do. It's a simple and beautiful thing that breaks through the gray and all the layers of winter.