Winter can feel like a mean season.
Winter can feel especially mean if you are an international student from the tropics and the temperature drops to single digits.
Winter can feel mean when you don’t see the ice and you land on your tailbone.
Winter can feel mean when you’re snow-blowing the driveway at 6 am and the fuel runs out halfway through and then you can’t locate the correct fuel canister to refill it, and your spouse who usually handles this is in Phoenix. (Yes, this one is personal.)
Winter can also feel mean when they call another snow day and the house full of kids already felt loony yesterday. Winter driving is treacherous. Winter makes your toes cold. Someone always has germs to share around, and I don’t know you about you, but my body gets sore just from holding myself tight against the cold. Once the holidays leave us behind in the dust, winter sure can seem mean.
I’ve never liked meanness, and with little else to combat the January wintertime blues, I’m saying we’d do well to kill it with kindness. If your mind is jumping to warm blankets, crackling fires, and hot cups of tea, that is all well and good, but it won’t be enough to simply treat ourselves to our favorite creature comforts.
Winter seems so obviously isolating. For the necessary sake of warmth and safety, we withdraw; we hibernate. Yet, the world beckons to us, over and over again, calling us out to work, to school, and to stock up with more carts of groceries. Being yanked from the warmth, required to be somewhere, obligated to get something else done under gray skies and between gusts and gales, oh, that makes us angry, and bitter, and hard. Does it make us mean?
In the face of all this, I’m calling us to kindness. I’m calling us to kind actions, and kind words.
Kind actions will change everything. They will halt winter’s advancing mean streak. I saw a stranger stop in the cold at a bristling intersection a few days back to push another stranger’s stuck vehicle. I saw someone help someone else in the grocery lot, disoriented and looking for their car. I saw a person, hurting and defeated, and then I saw someone else come alongside and put a hand on their shoulder, and I knew that gentle touch was a tremendous kindness to that isolated individual.
Kind words will be the salve that mends our winter-torn weariness. I plead with you to come out of hibernation and unclench your jaw in order to offer warmth through your words. Share a story, a chuckle, or the endlessly well-received word of encouragement. Speaking kindness will thaw and melt the most frozen of hearts.
Yes, I am calling us to kindness. You do not need an instruction manual. When life summons you out the door, seek to spread warmth on these cold, hard times. And, if you will, remember to receive the kindness of others in return. It can’t take much to soften our edginess and disperse our melancholy. Today, let us, together chase after kindness to warm our frozen spirits