The Winter Commute

by Sue Flynn, Ministerial Intern

In the winter season, I always delight in the joy of appreciating the contrasts of light, temperature, and seasonal changes in the landscape. My commute to and from work has become an unusual practice of being in the moment, which has allowed for gratitude, awe, delight, and pause to accompany me on my travels.

I learned to drive outside of Boston, MA, a place known for a lot of one-way streets and impatient and fast drivers. When I learned to drive I easily adapted to this.  I am not sure if it was my time in the Midwest or the many cross country trips I have taken, but I have turned into, as my friends playfully describe, a “Grandma driver.”  Ironically, my mom, who is technically a grandmother, never lost her Boston accent or her capacity to drive fast.

Since living in Jersey, I find I have learned many back roads to avoid the Jersey bird I get from anyone who has the misfortune of having to drive behind me. I have tried to conform to the fast pace of driving, but also find my 15-year-old-stick-shift car has its own ideas about speed. So, forgive me if I have kept you from your destination, but I have found even more reasons to drive slowly this winter.

The other day a farm house I had driven by day after day and not taken notice of had put four red ribbons around a line of humble and nondescript trees.  It was such a simple shift, and yet it allowed me to appreciate the house I had not previously noticed, and I wonder if the trees felt a little more special, with their winter accent.

Another day I got up particularly early to get to work, it was a bitter cold day, but everything was sparkling with a fresh layer of snow. It had not been disturbed yet, almost as if the creatures and the people had all agreed to sleep in and welcome a few more moments of uninterrupted beauty. Being the only one on the road and seeing the snow catching the light, I felt a sense of awe, as if this master piece of nature was custom designed just for me. As I turned the corner, another stunning scene of a farm framed by woods took my breathe away. There was a car pulled over, accompanied by a bundled-up-brave-soul, also marveling at the moment through the lens of their camera. I felt instantly connected to the bundled photographer and to the land in appreciation for the gift of that moment, and being grateful there was another who was receiving the same present.

Has anyone noticed the reindeer that is positioned directly across from UUCWC’s driveway’s entrance? Now, I am not a fan of night driving, but one thing that has infused gratitude into this Grinch-heart-of-mine when I do have to drive at night, has been this LED reindeer. During the day, it sparkles and at night it is lit up, which reminds me to enjoy the nuances of the natural light of the day and the beauty of the darkness at night. I look forward to the commute as the seasons continue to change, and the gift of what those moments will inspire.