Saturday, January 26, 2008


(this post will be printed in a somewhat shorter form in our church newsletter)

This morning I was out in the just before dawn walking my dog. I was wearing my coat, my scarf, my boots, my mittens, my earmuffs, the whole armor of God, so to speak. And I was thinking, that aside from the snow and the ice, it felt, well, almost pleasant. I can do this, I was thinking, as I watched the darkness begin to give way to light. It's not so bad.

It was 21 degrees.

Now, the last I heard, 21 degrees was still considered well below freezing. It's colder than my refrigerator, in fact. I think all will agree that it is a cold temperature. And back in November, when the temperature dipped to 21, it was a major catastrophe. It was unbearable. It was almost the end of the world. Today, it's a veritable heat wave. Or, at least I can stand it. I can deal with it. So what changed?

I got acclimated.

Now I suppose that we as a species would not survive if we didn't learn to acclimate. This is especially true in extreme climates, like Minnesota -- and Arizona. My sister tells me that something similar happens where she lives. We visited once in the middle of July, and whined and complained the whole time. "How can you stand it?" we asked. "It's not any different than the cold in Minnesota, she informed us, a hint irritated. "In fact, it's easier than Minnesota."

But, it got me thinking today: there are some things we need to get acclimated to, the things we can't do anything about, like the weather. But often we learn to live with things we should, instead, be trying to change, things we should care about.

I think the prophets got angry because the people of Israel got too acclimated to the presence of the poor and needy among them. Instead of working for justice for their neighbor, they looked the other way.

Sometimes we get acclimated to injustice against ourselves. I think of women or children who are abused and who learn to believe that this is normal, that this is the way it is supposed to be. Or countries that live with war for so many years they no longer remember what peace is like.

The people of God can't afford to get too acclimated to injustice in the world. We are called to be salt and light, not only to seek justice for ourselves, but for other children of God as well. As the apostle Paul wrote: Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. (Romans 12:2) In other words, don't get too acclimated.

In the meantime, we have the coat, the scarf, the boots and mittens, the whole armor of God. We need to feel the pain of injustice, of grief, of sorrow, but we can't let it stop us from going out into the world. After all, it's cold out there.


FranIAm said...

Only a few minutes here and so overtired... but so moved by your words.

You know that in particular they are very meaningful to me.

Thank you for this.

P.S. an after-thought said...

Well said. A new way of looking at our nearsightedness about others.

Alex said...

this is beautiful...

mompriest said...

Indeed, when you've lived through minus 3 or lower, 21 is a heat wave...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the's so easy to get acclimated to what's happening around us when we shouldn't.

Cecilia said...

This is really lovely... I am supposed to come up with one of these this morning... better get to it!

Jiff said...

Wonderful, thoughtful. thank you!