January’s always cold in Vermont. Sure, we may have a few thaws here and there, but generally, January is dependably cold, in any number of permutations. Today, conserving my less-than-ample woodpile, I opted to work at the public library. While the library’s not heated with wood, the building appeared to be metering its fuel, too; the radiators were stone cold all the hours I was there. The other library-goers and I all wore hats, many of us coats, and by mid-afternoon I had pulled the sleeves of my sweater over my palms.
My fellow Vermonters are hearty and generally good-natured. When I packed up my work, an older woman at the table beside me – wearing a well-knit hat – laughed when I raised my eyebrows. Sunny and clear; 3 degrees above zero; a bit crisp.
Most religions turn their adherents toward the things we are afraid to face: mortality, death, illness, loss, uncertainty, suffering – to the ways that life is always something of a disaster. Thus religion can be regarded as disaster preparedness – equipment not only to survive but to do so with equanimity and respond with calmness and altruism to the disaster of everyday life. Many religious practices also emphasize the importance of recognizing the connectedness of all things and the deep ties we all have to communities…..
– Rebecca Solnit, A Paradise Built in Hell