Tag Archives: snow

Unsung Heroes & Lessons from a Snow Storm…

There is someone you know or have heard of, who you know deserves a medal. A medal that they will never receive. They go above and beyond the call of duty, beyond the work that they are paid for, or perhaps for no pay at all, quietly, with regularity, motivated perhaps by deep values of compassion, faith, personal integrity or a love and concern for other people. These unsung heroes and heroines work diligently behind the scenes, receiving little praise, and yet they are the ones that remind the vulnerable that they are cared for, keep people safe, and come to the rescue in times of need. Perhaps this person will never receive a medal, but is there some way that you can encourage them and let them know how wonderful you think they are? 

For as their many little and more significant acts of kindness touch the lives of others, so too your own acts of kindness and gratitude to them may make a huge difference for them to know that they are noticed and appreciated. 

I wonder if there is someone on your mind right now? And are you thinking of a gesture, or maybe a few prompts could help to inspire you to find your own personal way to say that ‘thank you’ that they might otherwise not receive? Perhaps this could come by way of a card, a personal letter, a box of chocolates, a visit, a message, a telephone call, an anonymous note, a gathering of appreciative friends or colleagues, or simply a kind and gentle word of gratitude. These all make a difference. 

So where, you might be wondering, does the connection with snow storms come in? Well, as I write I am somewhat ‘snowed in’ and like many others in my city, and all across the UK, I am off work due to the ‘snow day’, and the red and amber weather warnings to only travel if absolutely essential. All train services here are cancelled until further notice, buses are mostly cancelled and although I walked to and from work the day before yesterday, it took over 45 minutes each way, and the conditions are considered unsafe. That and the pain in my legs and advice from the Government, Met Office and other sources to stay indoors, has resulted in me taking a couple of annual leave days, like many others, until the storm passes. 

However, walking 45 minutes to work in the snow, given that I am fairly young and able bodied is hardly a commendable feat although it may be appreciable. What is commendable are the many doctors, nurses, care workers and others who have put their care and duties towards others before their own. The snow and storms and icy blasts have brought tragedy in the UK in the past couple of days. Over a dozen people have died from the very young to the elderly due to getting caught in the bad weather. A young child of 7 died, and a man in his late 60s drowned after trying to rescue his dog from a frozen lake. An elderly woman in her late 70s was found by a passer by, frozen to death, lying near a stationary vehicle ~ it was thought that she had been confused and wandering about outside before she died. There have been road traffic accidents, and perhaps a whole host of other situations that have as yet not come to light, or to the attention of the mainstream media. Today, it was reported in the news that a Scottish care worker who was known and respected in her profession for over 15 years was found dead in the snow as she had been walking to fulfil the duties of caring for her clients in their homes. A homeless man was found frozen to death in his tent. However, in the bleakness of this unusual ‘Spring’, there has been beauty also.

Not only the sublime beauty of nature’s splendour, but also in the kindness of strangers and friends and the resourcefulness and creativity of individuals. Drivers were stuck in their vehicles on motorways, some for over 12 to 15 hours, and strangers gathered supplies of hot drinks, food, snacks and even warm milk to feed a baby and walked through the snow to bring some practical comfort and words of kindness to those who were having to spend the night on the roads. Churches and event halls opened their doors to provide emergency shelter for homeless people. Charity workers went out into the streets to let homeless people know how and where they could get help. Neighbours with 4 x 4s drove doctors and nurses to their place of work. Medical health professionals chose to sleep overnight in hospitals to ensure that there was cover, and to relieve their colleagues, and provide patient care. Children helped their parents bring food to those who were vulnerable. Neighbours checked in on elderly people who were alone in order to make sure that they were ok. Trade unions spoke up for those who were being forced to work in inclement conditions including delivery drivers and riders (as many fast food deliveries in cities are now done by people on bicycles carrying the boxed food on their backs as they ride), who are putting themselves at risk at the demands of their employers. People have been finding ingenious ideas to get around or make the most of the snow by snowboarding down streets, skiing into work or simply having an icy blast with snowball fights and sledging. Photographers have captured some of nature’s beauty to inspire others. Neighbours have helped parents with childcare arrangements and family and friends and communities have ‘pitched in’ to help one another. Rail workers, council employees, gritters and others work through the cold days and nights to clear roads, railway tracks and to get systems up and running again for the rest of us. 

We so often hear the news of terrible events, tragedies, evil, abuse, injustice and violence. However, every so often something seems to bring out the best in people and those smaller yet no less significant stories come to the fore. And yet, day in and day out, and through the night many quiet and unsung heroes and heroines including children go about their tasks with love and care and commitment in expectation of no reward. Perhaps their reward is a higher purpose and one that shines forth in times like this where they can clearly be seen to be doing it for more than just money or human applause. Perhaps you are one of those people. Perhaps you feel that you are not, and wonder if you are making any difference in anyone’s life. 

Well, let me encourage you right now, that you are so significant, and your life so powerful, and each act of kindness however small is of so much importance. Maybe you are not saving lives, but perhaps a word of encouragement could result in a life saved for someone. Maybe you are not able to do the more ‘hands on’ frontline work, but perhaps you can encourage someone who is or help in some small way. Perhaps the greatest ways you can help are by prayer, small acts of kindness each day, and even through your own blog as you put something encouraging into the world for others to read and think  about and share. 

We all need these unsung heroes, but unsung heroes need encouragers too. And maybe, just maybe, an encourager is what you are called on to be today. 

Much love. xx

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Expect the unexpected! What are the certainties in your life? …

February, being the shortest month, has swiftly drawn to a close, and March ~ the month in which we expect spring to have sprung ~ has promptly arrived.

However, here in the United Kingdom, as anyone who is familiar with our obsession with talking about the weather will know, spring, summer and in fact all four seasons can be a little unpredictable. At least *that* is something we can be certain of!

Here is a delightful scene for the first day of spring!

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Snow and sunshine has graced the first morning of spring. However, despite how pretty this scene looks, the Met Office has declared a ‘Red’ weather warning since yesterday – the highest level – with possible further disruptions and risk to life as the ‘Beast from the East’ as the Siberian chill and moving weather patterns has been termed gives way to what the Spanish and Portuguese meteorologists have named ‘Storm Emma’, coming up from the South. Emma and the Beast! What a combination!

This gently beguiling scene veils the travel disruption, cancelled trains, hundreds of commuters stuck in airports and ‘stranded’ in their cars on the motorway for over 12 hours since last night, early office closures and increased call outs to emergency services. For a cold country perhaps we are a little ‘light weight’ when it comes to dealing with the varying forms of precipitation we intermittently face. Perhaps Canadians and New Yorkers and people from other regularly snowy countries and cities would laugh us to scorn at our inability to take such storms and snow flurries in our stride. However, the snow has brought out a brighter side to things. The crisp cold air, and beautiful natural scenes of trees and parks blanketed in white, the snow ball fights, gleeful children during their school closures and people sledging and having fun have all been something to bring a smile to the heart.

However, as much as we Brits talk about the weather, the true essence of these musings is a little deeper than the 18 centimetres of snow this city saw at one point. As the snow thaws in the sun, and seasons change, we realise too that our lives are passing, fleeting and as much as we long for the predictability and familiarity of seasons clearly demarcated as they ‘should’ be, our lives are actually often windswept by unexpected change, unpredictable events, uncertainty and consequently anxiety. We strive to pull out all the stops to regain control such as shovelling away the snows of doubt and worry, hoping that with enough effort we can clear our own paths and watch the unknowns melt away. Perhaps you are a seasoned warrior of change, or maybe a seasoned worrier with every uncertainty. Maybe you thrive on the adrenaline rush that living in the moment and embracing the unknown brings. However, regardless of your temperament, I believe that as human beings, at the core we do need a root of certainty in our lives. Not the certainty of known events or situations or happenings as such, but something even deeper and more fundamental. We need to know, deep in our souls, that when the storms of life come as inevitably and sometimes without much forecast or warning they do, that we have something to anchor to, something that will sustain us in our deepest uncertainty, and something far beyond our meagre efforts to dig out a clear pathway for ourselves.

Do you ever think about such things when life is going smoothly for you? Do you find yourselves wondering what will hold you when you are in the eye of your life’s storm? Perhaps you are yet to weather any severe or significant storms in your life as yet, but how can you be certain that you never will? Perhaps you have weathered many difficult experiences in your life and wish that the storm would soon pass and the sun would shine again. And maybe through your adversities you have gleaned great insights, or maybe you feel defeated, discouraged or broken hearted.

Your story, your life matters. It matters because you matter. But as you make your way through one changing season of your life to the next, what is your anchor? For me, through many storms, some longer lasting than others, I have found that nothing I can do can truly anchor my own soul, and the anchor which holds me, the rock on which I know I have a sure foundation in life is the Rock of Christ. Tried and tested, and found Faithful through every storm, and in the sunshine seasons of life too. And ultimately my Certainty and Hope beyond death.

What do you hold to? What or who holds you? Do you have certainty in your uncertainty? I would love to hear your thoughts, but if you’d prefer not to comment, then I hope you can find a few quiet moments to ponder and reflect upon your life, your uncertainties and what you have knowingly or subconsciously put your hope and trust in to hold you through all of life, as you embark upon this new season and first day of ‘Spring’.

Much love. xx

Daily Prompt ~ ‘Dim’

Inspired by the Daily Prompt word ‘dim’

I braced myself against the chill wind. I had to stop intermittently to remove hard packed chunks of snow from my boots. The snow, which I thought would simply melt from the pressure of walking, didn’t, and so the unexpected pain and nuisance slowed down what would otherwise have been a romanticised walk. 

I tried to leave a little extra time in the morning for my journey, but alas when I got to the small train station under the bridge I instantly noticed that the barrier ticket gates were all marked with red crosses. No green tick for me to pass this way today. The man at the kiosk tapped on the glass and beckoned me over. ‘Everything’s off’ he said, and apologetically indicated that there *might* be some busses going where I was headed, but he couldn’t be sure. He knew my weekly workplace destination, or at least the train stop that I travelled to, and I knew him by face, but we didn’t know each other’s names. Perhaps this was strange, but I was shy with strangers, and perhaps overly focused on my journey to work in the mornings to be able to think of much to say. I thanked him, and we exchanged goodbyes as I made my way back out into the cold. 

Everything was slower. Pedestrians walked more deliberately yet confidently through the mounds of brown white snow as they crossed roads, knowing that the cars, busses, lorries and other vehicles were merely crawling along as their drivers struggled to grip the road. The water beckoned to me. Normally I would panic, or at least give way to a measure of anxious thoughts and imaginings, but I had worked hard to get to this point, and I was proud of myself. What could I do after all? It is what it is, and everyone else was in the same position. There were no taxis at the taxi rank, and I couldn’t see any buses that were going my way, and even if there had been one or two eastward bound, I was sure that they would take so much longer than if I were to walk, and after all I had left myself an extra 10 minutes, so I might make it near enough on time. I had left my phone at work, and so I did not know what time it was, but I had a rough idea. And so the decision was made. I smiled as I watched tufts of snow fall and hang heavy from fir trees outside the hotel. This will be a beautiful walk, I told myself. Almost romantic – a time to enjoy the beauty of the inclement weather, time to think and to commune with the Creator of earth’s fascinating beauties as I went. 

And so I made my way to the riverside, leaving between me and the river a breaker of trees that did perhaps a little to shield me from the wind and the intermittent petals of snow blowing into my face and mouth. Clumps of snow gathered starkly against my dark hair, and with gloved fingers I brushed them down and picked out the clumps of cold white residue. 

Despite the resistance of the walk, I knew in my heart that I had made the right choice, for it was beautiful. Birds flew, unperturbed over the river, and a soft hazy sunlight dimly graced a picture postcard morning scene of white on green as the trees hung heavy, an almost untouched blanket of white covering the grass, and couples and friends taking pictures, throwing snowballs or holding hands as they walked. I delighted in the beauty of the morning and the gift that it was to experience this unfolding day, even as I trudged through the city, crossing roads, and on past the park. 

How much time had passed, I wondered, feeling like time itself had melted away. Perhaps half an hour, and hour, or two, who knew? I hoped that I would not be late. As I made my way tentatively and yet with an enchantment in my childlike heart, through the snow white covered park, I noticed school children laughing, trying to run, while others lay on the ground making ‘snow angels’. I could not see the path, but I knew that it wouldn’t be long until I reached my destination. As I passed through the park and back into the main streets I saw the clock tower in the distance, dimly as white flakes passed in front of my eyes, and as the brightness of the sun on pure white reflected back up at me. It was ten past the hour. Almost right on time, I thought. It was ok that I could not see the whole path, as long as I could see where to place my next step. I pressed on determinedly, with just a short way left to go. It had been a beautiful morning, despite the effort. A snow white beautiful morning, and a calm before the afternoon’s forecast storm.