I live in an old house. And in this old house is an old furnace. While the old gal still pumps out heat pretty well, one of the side effects of it doing so during this time of year is a feeling of dryness throughout the house. To counteract this, we have engaged the help of a humidifier, trying to reach that delicate balance between not having moist windows and not having uncomfortably dry skin. Sometimes the comfort is elusive, as we constantly move both the thermostat and humidity level dials in order to achieve the perfect balance and an itch-free existence.
Winter is hard for a lot of folks. The longer nights, the cold, the snow and ice – all seem to be the grim opposites of the cheery expressions of spring. Instead of full green trees, we have lifeless trunks with twigs. Instead of blooming flowers, we have frozen flower beds, and instead of the warm sun we have overcast skies and blowing snow. Physical discomfort often brings emotional discomfort, as external experiences sometimes enhance what we are feeling inside. Sometimes the dryness you feel isn’t the result of a clunky furnace and poorly performing humidifier; sometimes the dryness comes from within your very soul.
Have you ever had your soul itch? You know, when the life you have seems to not be quite right, that no matter what you do, what balance you try to attain, things are uncomfortable. Life isn’t bad, per say, but it sometimes seems to have that dry itch that just won’t go away. Like with sensitive skin, you keep trying different kinds of creams to help reduce it. You change clothing, add a humidifier, but it still keeps coming back. Not enough to go to the doctor for, or to permanently change your life for, but it is definitely something you would love to have stop. Somehow the delicate balance in that home that is your soul is off, as the inside furnace and humidifier struggle to try and offset the effects of the outside world, the result of which leaves you dry inside – with a kind of itch that you just can’t stop scratching.
Like the weather, sometimes the outside forces of our lives cannot be controlled and we are forced to allocate ourselves in such a way to try to maintain a balance of comfort. And like an old house furnace and a modern humidifier, sometimes that balance requires the help of multiple resources, be it family, friends, job, time alone, or pets. Yet, somehow, we still yearn and expect life to be perfect for us, even when the very things around us are not. Why is it that we choose to curse the imperfection instead of embracing the blessings we have in order to make it less uncomfortable? Or worse, why do we sometimes even feel like we deserve the discomfort we have?
We all have things in life that make us feel dry inside, things that make our soul itch. For some of us they are the life choices for which we are none too proud. For others it is some sort of loneliness, where the absence of love has shriveled our hearts. And for still others, it is a loss of purpose, on which the soul itself needs to feed. Winter is that time of year where an inner dryness can seem more pronounced, perhaps because it is often accompanied (as it is in our house) by a literal physical dryness. I think that is why this season can be tough for so many – as the discomfort can emanate from both within and without.
I have accepted the fact that living in an old house during the winter requires certain accommodations in order maintain a level of itch-free comfort. Although I wish it were otherwise, I have accepted the fact that her imperfections are what they are, so I do my best with what I have. Perhaps we should give ourselves that same gentle consideration, and reach out to one another other when we can’t.
“Expect to have hope rekindled. Expect your prayers to be answered in wondrous ways. The dry seasons in life do not last. The spring rains will come again.” ~ Sarah Ban Breathnach, author of Simple Abundance