Last Saturday I came across two signs quite close to each another whose messages seemed destined for this blog on the small. “Deaf Child,” said one. “Blind Drive,” said the other. It’s a reminder that we need to be careful on these roads of ours, slow down, and keep a weather eye out, a useful phrase given the cold now gripping several parts of our nation.
Here, tonight, in my small part of it, the people stand like sardines in a can down the aisle of this late and full-to-bursting train. Like millipeds, people inch their way up through the standing room only crowd to squeeze out at their stations. Volumes of quilted coats, hats, fur lined hoods and other small woolly bits litter the car and, as we pull out from each platform, another wave makes its way forward. Commuting in the cold has its moments.
The conductor in this car is one of our favorites, and tonight she stood above the assembled folk to announce that, as it was impossible to collect fares, she wanted us all to be safe and warm: “that’s all I care about tonight,” she said. She’s also known for her common bidding, “Have a good night guys.” That “guys” could be a dead giveaway of more Midwestern roots.
And the ten degrees? We reached that the other day, and are under that for a short while now. We don’t know the bitter cold of the upper Midwest, and this is a normal bite of New England winter weather. Huddle around the woodstove, and pull on the second pair of pants against the blast of wind. Fashion takes a back seat to the practicalities and functionality demanded. So what if we dress like our inner, second grade selves?
That’s on the outside. On the inside, most of us carry some worry for those without adequate heating or housing, hoping helpers in direct contact with them can make our little go a longer way. We hope that despite the chill of the air or the concerns that creep into the night watches, warmer days and better times for more citizens are coming. And given that it’s Inauguration Week, I would offer the hope that our national leaders will take a moment to look at the signs here amongst the people, and feel the ten degrees of chill and trouble others bear at this time. Let’s hope that the signs, the sight and the hearing in our national life, improve on our journey ahead.