Several days of every week I have evening meetings. On these days, that may have started early in the morning with other responsibilities, I always try to take a little break around 4:00 to clear my head, get some fresh air and have a little Sabbath time. I often head to a lovely little bakery restaurant in the Uptown area where I hug a cup of coffee and allow the chocolate in one of the best chocolate chip cookies known to humanity melt in my mouth. Yesterday was one of those days that stretched over many hours and so I headed out to engage in this sacramental moment.
It goes without saying that driving and particularly parking your car anywhere these days is a challenge. The snow has now built up so high that most humans need to take on a mountain goat approach to nearly every curb and intersection. Driving, I made my way along the ever narrowing streets and safely maneuvered around corners where snow was piled higher than my car. Safe site lines have now gone the way of the streetcar. I parked with the curb side of the car elevated on ice-impacted snow and toppled out of the car.
Bundled up against the freezing wind, I made my way around to the parking meter. From the sidewalk there was a small path cut into the boulevard by the feet of all those who had gone before me. They must have been small people….unusually small people with equally small feet… because I had to stand with one foot in front of the other as I balanced on the snowbank. I did not feel like a dancer in this ballet like position. My mittened hands now had to reach into my wallet to retrieve the quarters which would feed the meter so I could have the chocolate chip cookie that had become my prize. Fumbling with mitten in one hand, my exposed flesh held two quarters as I balanced like a flamingo. One quarter slid easily into the meter but somehow the balancing or the wind chill caused the second quarter to slide in a free fall from my fingers into the snow below. I watched it fall slowly down as my eyes followed it. Looking at the snow below I saw the slice it had made in the snow. And surrounding it were several other identical slices……quarters that had fallen as others had balanced in the same place……quarters that will lie hidden in the snow until the spring thaw.
I laughed and wanted to tag this meter so some lucky person will know to watch for the treasure that will emerge. As I plugged another quarter in and headed in for my now much deserved treat, I began to think of all the hidden treasures that are waiting to emerge from these winter days. Ruminating over my warm coffee and delicious cookie, I watched the people move by outside, the life of them visible in the breath that surrounded their heads, that blew forth from their red faces. Each is carrying a treasure that is also perhaps hidden. Under the frozen ground all kinds of bulbs and seeds are resting and waiting for the right moment to begin to make their way toward life anew. I observed a couple meeting with a real estate agent as they dreamed of a new home that will no doubt be filled with the treasures of their lives. Sitting near by a young women wrote passionately on her computer. What treasure lies hidden within the words she so furiously meted out?
Most often we think of treasures as monetary. But in the book of Matthew, the teacher Jesus reminds the people that’ where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ What do you treasure? What treasures lie hidden within you that long to be brought out into the light of day? What treasure, if discovered, would make your heart sing? These are good questions to consider on these cold, winter days.
Today may find us balancing in places that don’t feel so comfortable, or at least not very graceful. The winds may be rushing around the doors of life exposing our vulnerabilities. But there are treasures we carry and ones that are just outside our vision that will be revealed……often in their own good time, when the melting is over. Our work is, most often, to practice patience and openness in the waiting.
But for someone with a really good shovel and strong arms, there are quarters to be had beneath a parking meter in Uptown!