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Let it snow!



If I could have each day

One hour of sun,

Glorious,

Healing,

Hot,

Like now—

Then

Let Winter come!

Excerpt from Sitting By My Laughing Fire by Ruth Bell Graham


In the rest of the poem, Ruth invites the wildest, most miserable, longest, winter. She says she would not mind at all if every day she could have that hour of sun. I ponder whether I would ask for only an hour. I’m afraid not. I consider a winter where the winds would blow, the rain freezing on the stoop, and the snow piling beneath the windowsills…could I endure that constant? Last winter, my husband put a stump on the west side of the garden where the sun fell in the afternoons. On that sitting stump, I held my little baby all wrapped in blankets while Mitten, the cat, rubbed cat hair all over my skirt and stretched his claws over my thigh. But oh, that sun felt good on my cheeks. I’m dreading this winter, I suppose, because I haven’t found the hour of golden sunshine yet. The self-help ideas abound. The 1000 hours outside in a year including winter hours, the tinctures of vitamin d or some other morning glory sounding name, and the expected coziness. Hygge might help, exercise will help, projects should help. My sitting stump will help too.


How do we as humans keep up motivation to pursue the important over the urgent? I am thinking of you parents and teachers so much. Right now, you’re either practicing hard for Christmas choirs and rehearsals, balancing social calendars so you can still get schoolwork done, or buying meaningful things for the holiday expectations. I don’t mean to paint a picture of terrible frustration. Maybe you enjoy the challenge and the rush of responsibilities. I figure though, you still wish for your glorious, healing, hot hour of sunshine.


Let’s explore ways to find (and maintain) that hour of sunshine. What would it look like for humans if they heeded that hour of sunshine and didn’t ignore it? To accomplish what is really important instead of only the urgent? I don’t think I can fully answer that question, so I’d love to hear your feedback.


Start by asking the question, “what do I really want?” Normally when I start this thinking process my mind flies a dozen directions. I want to be on time everywhere I go, I want a peaceful, clean house, I want a healthy lifestyle, I want to exercise, I want to be friendly-show support to friends and family, I want to be closely connected to my Heavenly Father, I want to read books, I want to be well dressed, I want to be able to buy gifts for others, I want to…you name it. I have so many options I just get all overwhelmed. When I narrow it down to a mere one or two things, the thing that really matters becomes clear to me. This may be a question we need to ask ourselves every single morning. If you get that most important thing done, then you’ll feel your glorious, healing, hot hour of sunshine amid your wildest winter of urgent toil.


This is not a one, two, three step process to finding health and happiness. The inevitable march of life guarantees nothing except one must be courageous and carry on. My hour of sunshine, on good days, might look like a cup of tea with a good phone conversation, or a good book while I rest my head on a pillow. But on normal days, it probably means sitting down to write a letter, a blog post, an email, or menu-making in a quick hour while the baby sleeps before I need to do the school run. Perhaps my hour of sunshine is simply taking the time to write. It might be mid-morning, after lunch, or between nine and ten at night. It sometimes is described as glorious, healing, and hot. Often, though, it’s best described as weak, splotchy, and lukewarm. I still find it healthy to sit in the sun, however pale. I wonder if Ruth Bell Graham was okay if her hour of sunshine was found lacking.


Perhaps the best way to heed the hour of sunshine is the mindset to “just do it.” Zero expectations, zero expectations. The perfection in our heads needs to go. We must simply pick up the pen and write, go on that walk, serve tea to students, wash the dishes, pick up the read-aloud. An hour of sunshine sounds magical, but unless we go sit in the sun, we’ll never experience the magic.


Whether you’re a teacher or a parent, I know the demands on your time are heavy. Time is fleeting. The hour of sunshine escapes your grasp almost daily. Prepare for the winter by finding that hour of sunshine again. The healing in your skin, your bones, and your smile will sparkle. The warmth will leap up your arms and flow to your fingertips. Heaviness of spirit be gone! You don’t need a list of ideas of more things to do. What I want you to do is mull over the question, “What do I really want?” for a week or so. Then, start moving toward that goal. Make a break in the urgent tasks to do the important ones. A glorious, healing, hot hour of sunshine means sweat running down my legs, and perhaps a cup of cold water afterwards. Soothing but invigorating. Chase that sunshine!




What is the sunshine to you?


Some say the sun is a golden earring,

The earing of a beautiful girl…

-Natalia M. Belting


…the hills untied their bonnets,

The bobolinks begun.

Then I said softly to myself,

“That must’ve been the sun!”

-Emily Dickinson


Sun up in the mornin

Hot upon my back,

Got to go start pickin

Cotton in my sack.

Got to keep on pickin,

Got to keep on pickin,

Pick, pick, pick, keep pickin

Cotton in my sack.

Hot ole sun keeps shinin,

Heavy grows my pack;

Pick, pick, pick, keep pickin

Cotton in my sack.

Song of the Cotton Children

- Lois Lenski

 

It’s a paradox, of sorts. We’re telling the world to let it snow, but meanwhile, we’re going to search for the sun.


In closing, we think our creative writing books as a Christmas present to your writer friend, niece, sibling, or grandchild would create a bit of sunshine. We'll even wrap it extra special for the holidays.


Keep seeking that hour of sunshine,

Jennifer Yoder


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