Lately, our hapless/nefarious President — Mr. “Hope and Change”, remember? — has dealt the notion of “change” a bad rep.
Nonetheless, change endures an ineluctable part of life — as I’ve recently been reminded in a way both quirky and very personal: I’ve come, unexpectedly and somewhat suddenly, to loathe wintertime.
I’ve passed nearly my entire life in stoutly four-season climes, complete with Currier & Ives winters. Cold, snow, ice? Simply my daily reality for three or more months annually. And for me, until very recently, Christmas was flatly deficient without, at minimum, a few patches of authentic white stuff to ornament my front lawn.
Mele Kalikimakae? What was that?
Gradually, however, the November-March inconvenience began grating on me. For those who may not know, serious cold and snow flatly render every and any outdoor activity more cumbersome, by a factor of three or four. Driving your car? Parking it? Collecting the mail? Once the snow starts flying — fuhgeddaboudit.
It all started to take a toll on me.
Yet, for a long time, part of me determinedly continued enjoying the wintertime, delighting in its variety and frosty, picture-postcard atmospherics. The icy aggravation was made bearable by what I still cherished as the season’s sentimental benefits.
Then, two years ago, the winter from hell descended upon the Northeast — including a remorseless six weeks of relentless, heartbreakingly hyperborean storms, leaving everything buried. By mid-February, contemplating another potential month of cold and choking powder, I found myself gaping at my driveway, bleakly exhausted and bleating, “Where am I supposed to put anymore snow?”
When springtime mercifully bloomed, I was a different man; I’d changed. The prospect of a snow-less winter — even a snow-less holiday season — barely ruffled me. I actually, literally, calculated: if I must choose between ice-snarled months along with a Bing-Crosby-style Christmas versus an earth-tone December 25 with little (or no!) white trauma to follow? I’ll settle for the latter, thank you very much.
Today: the wistfully gleeful wintertime appreciator in me is largely gone, like a snowball in the sun. In his place? “I’m dreaming of a green Christmas…”
These kinds of things happen over the span of a lifetime, of course. Eventually, most people will modify, shift, do about-faces in multiple areas — details varying between individuals, certainly, but volte-faces of some sort turning up..
So, change really shouldn’t be so startling — but, for me, it does remain rather sobering: I’ve come to appreciate, more than ever, if men are so easily changeable concerning comparatively frivolous matters, it’s likely they’ll be inclined to ditch their convictions and principles when it comes to the big stuff, as well. Sometimes foolishly ditch them.
America’s Founders obviously had a sense of that threat; which is why they bequeathed their infant nation a document — the Constitution of the United States of America — rooted in the immutable truths recorded in another document — the Declaration of Independence. “All men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.”
Blessings and values determined by the Maker of the Universe aren’t casually to be ignored or trifled with, after all. Treasured and preserved? Undeniably. But resolutely not to be changed. Jefferson, Adams, Washington, Hamilton, Madison and Co. established their Republic upon those assurances and codified them in a pair of charters; parchment bulwarks against careless, often deadly, human whimsy.
Men’s hearts’ being variable as the weather — or perhaps as my feelings about the weather — citizens of the United States would be well-served hewing to the wisdom of these founding documents. For well over two centuries, when that wisdom has been kept in the forefront, the American people have come, decisively, to experience its advantages.
Beyond that, and beyond the fifty states’ geographical shores, all of humanity has another trustworthy and overmastering guide on which to depend: The Bible — God’s unflagging Word –should be granted first place in any circumstance.
To his Creator and Lord, the psalmist proclaimed, “[A]ll You precepts concerning all things, I consider to be right,” (Psalm 119:128).
“The Bible is authoritative on everything on which it speaks,” echoes Christian philosopher Cornelius Van Til. “And it speaks of everything.”
It’s been labeled a “well-driven nail” (Eccl 12:11), “a rock” (Mt 7:24), “an anchor” (Heb 6:19) — fixed, secure, reliable; never old-fashioned, never obsolescent; rubber-meets-the-road applicable in any age.
“The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever,” (Isaiah 40:8).
“None of it gets to be ‘old stuff’ for it is Christ in print; the Living Word, ” insisted missionary/martyr Jim Elliot.
Day to day, year to year, century to century human persuasions and preferences waver, fluctuate, evolve. Mine do. Everyone’s do. Surely that’s not all bad. Again, change happens constantly — oftentimes, even necessarily.
But a ballasting measure of settledness? Also necessary. As G.K. Chesterton once pointed out, “I am incurably convinced that the object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.”
Americans are privileged with something wonderfully “solid” in their foundational documents. Only the ignorant or foolish among that populace lightly esteem them..
And even more gloriously, in the Holy Scriptures a thrillingly unfaltering source of instruction has been offered to every earthly tribe, tongue and nation. The judicious man clings to its unshakable, holy bulk in every situation, his whole life long. It stands the ultimate arbiter of truth at all times, bad or good; when winters are harsh or mild, when Christmas is white or green.
Image: Detail from front page of Martin Luther’s German bible, 1534; public domain/copyright expired.
Lower Image: First page of Constitution of the United States; date 1789; source; http://www.archives.gov/ national-archives-experience/charters/charters_downloads.html; author: Constitutional Convention; public domain