Hail, January

I love January. I know it’s cold and dark and everyone’s miserable, but I’m not. I like the excuse to stay in, huddle under a lamppostblanket, and make soup. This is probably the month when I like homeschooling the most, because while the rest of the world is outside waiting for buses and warming up the car, we’re still inside sipping hot drinks by the space heater.

Other months are showy, demanding us to celebrate holidays, decorate loudly, and fill our calendars. January is quiet, slowly allowing the light to grow longer and easing the daffodils up from their sleep. January coos to us, “Free up some space now. Slow down a bit. You need to rest.” If we are wise, we oblige.

January is full of hope. She hands us a clean calendar and encourages us to dream. She reminds us that we are mortal, hemmed in by hours, days, and weeks, and light and dark. Still, she urges us to rise above and make this year something unique and wonderful.

January is the clearing-out time. Christmas comes with all its joyful trappings and threatens to take over the place; January is our sister in solidarity saying, “here you may come, and no further.”  We overwhelm donation centers with those things we thought we needed until just now.

January is kind to us in making us reevaluate. The loud voices in our heads tell us to achieve more! Do more! Go further! January quietly suggests that it might be better to do well at those things we’ve already undertaken — for the glory of God and not ourselves, for the benefit of others.

We’ll be distracted soon enough by other months. Hail, January. I love you. Do your good work while you’re here.

When It’s Dark

candleThis week is predicted to be one of the coldest this year. The meteorologists are calling for caution, and social media is beginning to be flooded with screenshots of people’s weather apps. “Look!” we say. “It is nine degrees here. I can prove it to you with my screenshot.” Someone answers with the inevitable “five-day forecast” screenshot, displaying the projected high of minus ten.

This morning I came downstairs into the dark to find that we’d left a candle burning all night.

Yesterday I was fighting with this candle. It seemed useless to me. I had to dump out wax a few times to get it to stay lit, and I was about to throw it in the trash. But at last it had submitted to its purpose, begrudgingly holding onto a flame for a few hours last evening as we settled in for the night. But the flame was small enough that my husband didn’t notice it burning as he closed up the house late last night.

So it was the smallness and stubbornness of this flame that preserved it, and that preserved us. As people. As homeowners.

I left it burning as I began my day. It is small and steady enough; it poses no danger. For now.