Happy February! I was thinking about my book. It has a new cover and is now available on Kindle. It is even on sale! So to kick off a new month a bit late here is an exerpt from my favorite section in February.
So it is February and still Winter. Maybe the groundhog has predicted 6 more weeks of Winter, maybe not. Maybe you live in the far north and even through the groundhog says there will be 6 more weeks of winter you know that it will likely be more like 12. So, what to do with February?
Believe it or not, spring is coming, though it may seem to be coming slowly. Don’t neglect the beauty of this season. One friend of mine suggested that February is the time to enjoy colors, to celebrate color with sumptuous meals or dress in your most brightly-colored clothes. Maybe you will make something new and bright for your home or simply notice the layers of color in the frost on the window.
Study Light (and Color)
You should be noticing by now that the days are getting longer. With that the light is changing.
One great way to study the seasons is by noticing the positions of the sun. If you live in the city, one of the easiest ways to do this is to notice where the sun hits on your walls. Make a mental note or use post it notes to mark it. Check how it is changing every week throughout the month.
If you live on a farm and do chores outside, it is probably even easier to notice. We don’t have electricity in our barn, so our chore time depends on the sun. It is good practice to notice where the sun is throughout the day, especially in the evening.
Geography, science: We went to Hawaii for our honeymoon. Since Hawaii is closer to the equator than Minnesota, its sundown times are more even throughout the year. In Minnesota our sundowns vary from 4:30 pm in the winter to almost 9:30 pm in the summer. But in Hawaii the times vary only between 6:00 and 7:00 pm. This also a good time to study why the light changes. How does your location on the planet and the tilt of the planet effect where the sun is in our sky?
Art/ history: I had the opportunity to study in Nice, France one January in college. I went to the Matisse museum and was told that Matisse loved this area in the winter because of the sun. Take time to notice and appreciate the sun. See how the sun is portrayed in different works of art.
Edmund Burke said, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” This has been a family motto so long I had to do a google search to find out who originally said it. My father in particular is a history buff. All our family vacations included trips to local historical sites. I loved it. So when my dad suggested I read Silent Night: The Story of the World War I Christmas Truce by Stanley Weintraub I did. Even though I already had a full docket of books waiting in the wings.
I am not familiar with WWI though I did write a paper on how it started in the fifth grade. So parts of the book were a little difficult. Weintraub refers to different units like the Westphalians and I wasn’t sure which side he was talking about. But what struck me was that this truce started in the trenches. Normal soldiers who had been shooting at each other coming together to bury the dead, talk, exchange gifts and get to know each other. Once the higher ups found out about this unofficial truce they were furious. We can’t have the men talking. Then they might like each other, refuse to fight and the war would be over. Then what would we do? Is my paraphrase of their thinking.
Yes these officers wanted the war to continue so much that they threatened court martial of officers in the field whose men had “fraternized” with the other side. They also reassigned units that talked with the enemy. The commanding officers (and the powerful elite that wanted the war in the first place) knew that only if the men saw the other side as caricatures would they be willing to fight. They used propaganda and spread lies about the other side. But if the men met and talked they might actually like each other and lose their will to fight. There were already stories of soldiers who when commanded to shoot across no man’s land at the men they had talked with, played soccer with and celebrated Christmas with the day before they shot intentionally high.
So the surprising parallel that I discovered in reading this book is that today in this “culture war” if we knew each other, if we spent time with each would there still be a will to fight? Who is trying to prolong the war and stir up hate? Who is trying to make sure that the two sides do not talk, do not meet in no man’s land? Is this war really a war of ideals (remember all wars are billed as wars of ideals by the protagonists) or one about money and power (what wars are really about)?
When I was attending College at an all Women Catholic College one day my work supervisor–Sister Margery–told me we would have a new worker in the library. Her name was Ummi Abeeha, a Muslim whose family had migrated to Kenya. We spent many hours talking in the the archives of our college–sharing stories, asking about each other’s past and religions. She was the first Muslim girl I had met and not at all like the caricatures I had seen and heard about.
I love the Casting Crowns song, “Jesus Friends of Sinners.” My favorite line is “No one knows what we’re for only what we are against when we judge the wounded. What if we put down our signs crossed over the lines and loved like you did?” Each side has their trenches. The lines that they will not cross. We are expecting politicians and leaders to lead the way. We need to learn from history. If we want a peaceful end to the war it starts in the trenches. Let’s meet in No Man’s Land. Action step, find someone who would be considered an enemy according to today’s culture war and get to know them, just for the sake of knowing them. Maybe find something to celebrate. Let’s #StartFraternizing.