Bless the Lord, winter cold and summer heat

Portland Heat Wave 2009 - from Oregonian

This has been a year of weather extremes in Portland. Last winter the city was socked by snow and ice storms it didn’t have the money, equipment, personnel, or material (salt and sand) to deal with. Everything was shut down for days. We couldn’t get our car out of the cul-de-sac for a week – which was fine with me.

Last month, Portland came within a degree of breaking its all-time high temperature. I heard from someone that that day Portland was the third hottest place in the world, hotter even than Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Portland also came close to breaking its record for the most consecutive days over 100 degrees. The weather outside today is a relatively mild 83 degrees but it is humid and I am grumpy.

I’ve expended a lot of energy this year complaining about the weather. I know we don’t have it so bad – I’ve heard stories of heat in Phoenix so intense that it melts the pavement – but perspective is difficult for me on this. Mid-August is usually when I start to physically crave the rain, and this year especially so.

I’ve been reading Kathleen Norris’s latest book, “Acedia & Me.” In addition to being a personal, cultural, historical, spiritual and literary exploration of acedia – an uncommon enough word, meaning “absence of care,” that Microsoft Word doesn’t recognize it – this moving book recalls her marriage to the poet David Dwyer, his struggles with mental illness, and his death from cancer in 2003.

There is a passage in chapter six in which Norris remembers walking to visit her husband in a psychiatric ward on a day when it was so frigid that it hurt to breathe. As she cursed the cold and icy pavement under feet, she recalled the words of a canticle from the Sunday divine office. She was, she wrote, unaccountably consoled. “The words were now a part of me, and when I most needed them, the rhythms of my walking had stirred them up, to erode my anxiety and self-pity, and remind me that blessings may be found in all things.” All things, indeed.

I’m trying to commit the words from that canticle to memory. They are my second entry in my commonplace book.

Bless the Lord, winter cold and summer heat…
Bless the Lord, dews and falling snow…
Bless the Lord, nights and days…
Bless the Lord, light and darkness…
Bless the Lord, ice and cold…
Bless the Lord, frosts and snows;
sing praise to him and highly exalt him forever

(Daniel 3:45-50)


4 comments on “Bless the Lord, winter cold and summer heat

  1. Molly and I watched a squirrel do exactly that same thing out her window a week ago. It was funny to watch her try to talk to the critter every time it stopped and rested. It was a hot day and the little thing acted very lethargic, just melting over the fence.

  2. […] OR :: I’ve been on a bit of a Kathleen Norris jag. First I read “Acedia & Me,” then “The Virgin of Bennington.” Next I’ll read […]

  3. I can not find Daniel 3:45-50 as quoted in Kathleen’s book. There is no verses 45-50 in Daniel 3, it ends at verse 30. Help?

  4. This passage is part of “The Prayer of Azariah.” It is omitted from many Protestant bibles as Apocryphal. It does appear appear in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox bibles, as well as in the Greek Septuagint.

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