It has been extraordinarily warm this winter here in Richmond. It was over 70 for two days this past week, and it is confusing our plants in the garden. Several daffodils are up, and the camellias are blooming. If and when we get a cold snap, those poor plants will get a shock.
Still, despite what Punxatawney Phil predicted, our local weather folks are saying the generally mild weather will continue, so we may have six more weeks of mild temps instead of true winter.
I'm of two minds about this. I like real winter, with enough snow that you can stay at home and enjoy the fire in the fireplace and drink hot cocoa. I don't like feeling chilled to the bone, though, and that's part of the package.
It's been another challenging week. I have taken over as dean of the region (sort of a mother hen to the parishes in our general area) and have worried about and prayed for one of our country churches, where they had a funeral for twin 3-year-old girls who were murdered by their father. This has rippled throughout the whole area - I presided at a Eucharist in the retirement community where the girls' great-grandmother lives, and all her friends there are grieving with her. So much pain and questioning in the midst of this - it informs the sermon I will preach for tomorrow, on Isaiah 40:21-31 ("Have you not known? Have you not heard?"
I also presided yesterday at a funeral in a funeral parlor for a lady who died at 53 after a hard life - she had been born and brought up Episcopalian, but had not been affiliated with a church for a long time. I find myself wondering if things would have been different for her if she had had a church family to help her. No answer to that, of course, just as there is no answer to whether things would have transpired differently for the aforementioned little girls if their father, who killed them before he killed himself, had been attending church and had talked to someone there in his depression and anger.
All we can do with these sorts of tragedies is leave in God's hands and hope that other people who are struggling as these two did will ask for help - our help in the church or other kinds of help.
We all face times of balmy weather and cold snaps. It's easier to handle if we do it with God as part of the picture, and with God's people to help.