I would not do well as a Canadian. This past weekend reminded me how much I dislike the cold weather. I sometimes wonder what I’m still doing in the Northeast during this time of the year.
Just as the snow, the ice and the chill played havoc with parish life, it put a definite damper on how I went about my activities.
While most of the time was spent simply trying to stay warm – a homeowner’s nightmare – I did venture outside several times.
When I woke up on Sunday morning, I noticed that a neighbor – nice guy! – had blocked my neatly shoveled driveway. There was my car, perfectly visible to everyone, but some yahoo decided it was okay to block me from getting out onto the street.
So, for most of the day, I stayed indoors, but I did want to go to church, so the evening Mass would be appropriate. As I got closer to the appointed hour for Mass, I realized that not only would I have to walk to church, but also that my own parish church recently discontinued Sunday evening Mass – an appropriate pastoral move. But now that I would have to walk to the next parish, I was beginning to realize it was more than a mile away. Normally not a big deal, but in single-digit temperatures, it was definitely a hardship.
The walk was indeed chilling, but invigorating and warmed me up on the insides. When I got to church, it was announced that the boiler was down, the heat was only beginning to come up, and so it began to cool down again. The former pastor gave a shorter homily and used the shortest Eucharistic Prayer and we were all heading for home after about 45 minutes.
Nonetheless, I was impressed at how many people had ventured out in the cold evening air to attend Mass.
While the walk home was as bad as the cold jaunt I had taken the night before, it was still chilly. On Saturday evening, I had attended the Professional Bull Riders’ competition at Madison Square Garden. The walk from MSG to the car was numbing as we headed down 33rd St. toward the West Side of Manhattan.
The only reason I even mention this event is to say that sometimes we think we are the universe here in New York City. The Bull Riders’ event, which tours the Midwest as it makes its way West to Las Vegas for the finals in the fall, pretty much caters to a different crowd than you would think would show up in New York.
First of all, it started with a prayer a blessing of the cowboys and the bulls that would be used in the evening’s contest. The only other time I had prayed at a Garden event was at a healing service there many years ago.
The rest of the program featured country music, all-American salutes to first responders and the military, and an unabashed salute to the American spirit. Not only was I surprised by the full house at the Garden, but also the enthusiasm with which the evening was greeted. Everyone was having a great time. Only the bulls seemed a bit annoyed.
I’m praying that we’ve seen the last Arctic blast of the season but then again winter is still young. And while I have no plans to relocate any time soon, I will consider in future years a winter vacation in warmer climates.