I will never take being warm for granted. In 2015, I spent four weeks in Chile studying Spanish and living with a Chilean family. Although it was a modern apartment building, there was no heat. I was there in June which was the beginning of their late fall/early winter. The cold was a surprise every day when I walked into the apartment.
I made an important discovery during that experience. If I waited until I felt cold to put on an extra layer, it would be too late. I couldn’t get warm unless I climbed under the covers with all my layers on and waited for my body heat to catch up. This would take hours. Normally, I would have jumped in the shower but the water was barely lukewarm.
I became hyper-vigilant about the temperature and my clothing layers. When the sun started to go down, it soon became automatic to put on another layer.
What it taught me was not to wait before taking action. That it’s better to try to prevent coldness than try to warm myself up.
This is true in relationships as well. It’s better not to wait but to take initiative. Apologize, make the call, say the prayer, read the scripture, go to church, answer the call, whatever the Holy Spirit is prompting us to do.
It’s easy to let things lapse, get cold, and make us uncomfortable. It takes much longer to find the energy to get warm and restart. The longer we wait, the harder it becomes.
If I let my spiritual practices lapse for whatever reason, I try to jumpstart myself as soon as possible. Now, I look for signs of boredom. Do I need to switch the prayers I’ve been using, insert some hymns, find a new spiritual knitting project, enlist the help of a prayer partner? This is the equivalent of putting on a coat at sundown.
Each Lent as I sit down each day and pray, I’m surprised and grateful for the grace that layers my life before I get cold. It’s available like the coat, we just have to put it on.