Many of us in Chicago have been given two free days.
Schools are not in session, so I’m not working, and my husband is, at this moment, in a Zoom meeting in the dining room since no one has left their homes to get to the office. We’re all stuck in our houses due to a temperature of 20 below zero and wind chills of 40 or 50 below zero. It will be the same tomorrow.
And I sit at my computer wondering what to do with two completely free days.
It’s kind of nice. The room is cold – lots of windows – but I’m wearing a warm wool sweater, the space heater is right next to me, and I’m sipping hot tea out of a huge mug.
What to do?
Plenty of possibilities run through my head: write a couple blog posts (there has been no time for them lately), clean out some cupboards (my husband’s choice), read my novel (I’m currently reading The Weight of Ink and enjoying it). I’ve already made a few phone calls, because I know that everyone will be home today. Maybe I’ll binge watch something on Netflix. Maybe not. I could catch up on my Bible study and/or prepare for an upcoming teaching.
As I consider this list, I sadly realize that all of those lovely ideas serve…me.
Meanwhile, we haven’t even gone outside to pick up the paper that someone went to the trouble of delivering. Maybe the first thing I ought to do is to say a prayer of authentic gratitude for the people who are doing their jobs and therefore are not so cozy on this frigid day. Police, firefighters, bus and tow truck drivers, those who repair electric lines and medical workers don’t have the luxury of staying home. I predict that on the news tonight we’ll see stories of fires, broken down cars, or other disasters in which wonderful, skilled, and very cold people assisted. When faced with these conditions people generally come through to help each other. It gives me hope.
I’ll also take some time to pray, really pray, for those who do not have a warm home and for whom these days are not a gift of free time but a genuine threat to their lives and for those who are doing their best to help them. Thankfully there are people and organizations who are prepared to take in folks who need warmth.
I began this post with no particular focus and just started writing about what to do with some unexpected free time. As often happens, it took a turn and found its way to gratitude, prayer, and my asking myself why my thinking was backwards. Sometimes writing a blog post forces me to think a little slower, to process my thoughts a bit further, and eventually gets me back on the better track.
So, today I am thankful for men and women who do their work professionally, faithfully, and joyfully even in miserable conditions, and I am praying for those who will need their help in this arctic weather.
And whatever I do today, it will be done with a humble and grateful heart.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18