Earning Minnesota Merit Badges

Earning Minnesota Merit Badges

It’s -24 degrees here today with a -54 degree wind chill and an expected high of -14 degrees. The reasonable person would just forget about going outside, but hearty Minnesotans see today as a chance to earn yet another weather merit badge and bragging rights for years to come. Believe it or not, I can’t wait to get out, see if my car will start, and get on with my day as if the cold were no big deal.

I’ve lived here long enough to talk about getting through the Halloween blizzard of ’91 and the bitter cold snap of ’96 (did we know enough to call it at “polar vortex” back then?). Tell these stories again and the temps inevitably get colder and the snow deeper, sure testimony to our instinct to tell tales about overcoming hard times and thriving, not just surviving, because of them.

This is probably how lots of bible stories took on gargantuan proportions. My guess is that each time the story of escaping to freedom through the Red Sea was retold to children’s children, the waves got higher and the Egyptian chariots bigger and faster. And what about waves on the lake when Jesus walked on it? As Peter told the story over and over, the waves were probably higher and the night darker.

Exaggeration seems a necessary part of how we all talk about being saved from frostbite and drowning. It also helps us appreciate even more what kept us safe then, and who it is that keeps coming to meet us and save us from irreparable hurt every day.

Photo: Wild Geese/PhotoXpress


About the Author

Joe McHugh is a spiritual director, retreat leader, teacher, and writer based in the Twin Cities. He contributes regularly to the National Catholic Reporter. His book, "Startled by God: Wisdom from Unexpected Places" is available at catalog.franciscanmedia.org. He can be contacted at jjmch1300@gmail.com.

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