A cold day

Written by on January 30, 2019

So, it’s really cold. I woke up this morning thankful for a warm house. Most days I take this warmth and safety very much for granted, but not this morning.

The kids are home, the cartoons are on, and as I sit next to Rosie, all wrapped up in her new mermaid blanket, I am drinking some good coffee and thinking about “the Quaker questions.”

The Quaker questions are a set of icebreaker questions for groups. While their origin is not historically certain, they emerged at some point in the history of Quaker worship and practice. The questions go like this:

  • Where were you living around age 5–12? How many were living in your household?
  • What were the winters like? How was your home heated then?
  • What was the center of warmth in your life as a child? (This can be a place in the house, a time of year, a person, etc.)
  • When did God become a “warm” person, or more than just a name for you? How did it happen?

The personal nature of the questions increase as a group works its way through the list. Places are described, people are mentioned, experiences are compared, questions emerge, but the questions allow the group to share as vulnerably as they choose. The final question, though, invites a deeper vulnerability. And it is this final question that has grabbed my attention today.

When did God become a “warm” person for you, or more than just a name for you?

On this bitterly cold January morning my mind progresses through memories… all moments in time, all gifts along the way. A mission trip to Hermosillo, Mexico in 9thgrade; the challenging questions of a history teacher and basketball coach in 12th grade; a Christmas afternoon in 1992 reading Henri Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son; a night at TCBY yogurt near the end of graduate school with friends and one very wise and godly man; a spiritual retreat in Gig Harbor, WA the summer of 1997; a drive from Crystal Springs Camp back to Fargo, ND in fall 2003; my wedding week August 2010; a counseling session in August 2017 encountering another level of grief over a friend’s death.

All of my memories here have the character of grace. God took the first step over and again by his Spirit, inviting me “out of the cold and into the warmth” of his loving life.

I know one of the discoveries I return to over and again is how often I try to engage with God on my own terms. With one hand, I open myself to God’s loving way, but with the other hand I cling onto my self-protective way of life—after all, I think, can I really trust anyone else to look out for me like I do for myself? This remains one of the great resistances of my ego. 

But as I look back this chilly morning through the lens of the Quaker questions, I am also struck by how over the past thirty-five years God’s Spirit has consistently welcomed me in and out of the cold in spite of my particular resistances and frailties and indifferences.

The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is a good and patient, a holy and “warm” God. And I find myself amazed, humbled, and profoundly grateful.

When did God become a “warm” person for you, or more than just a name for you?

 



Comments
  1. John Edenfield   On   January 31, 2019 at 10:38 am

    Thank you, thank you for your honesty, transparency and, as always, your way of causing me to revisit my responses to the Quaker questions. The questions are probing, the replies made rich upon deep reflection, made all the more rich when shared in community with others on this journey through life. Blessings my friend…

    • Rob Loane   On   January 31, 2019 at 11:11 am

      Good to hear your voice John. You didn’t relate to the bitter cold, I suspect… but to the question and reflections. Awesome. Blessings…

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