I went to the temple the other morning and I dared not get out of my car. It was almost 7 am and the thermostat on my dash read 19 degrees. There was an icy breeze that pushed into my car as I opened the door to get my wheelchair positioned. I get cold easily, but this was a whole new level of chill. All I had on was my temple dress, a light weight green and white polka dot dress my sister in law gave me. I wear it all the time to the temple, I’m sure the workers believe I have no more clothes. It’s just the easiest to change into and out of from the wheelchair. It has no sleeves so I wear a white short-sleeve sweater over it, which is also light weight. My clothing was definitely not suited for the frosty morning.
I got my slideboard out and positioned it to bridge the gap between me and the wheelchair and slid across. My bare legs were like two icicles with goosebumps when I pulled them out and rested my feet on the wheelchair bar. My hands were already feeling slightly numb and I wondered if I could do this. I just needed to get from that parking spot up the small hill and into the temple. My parking spot was so close, there wasn’t a closer spot, but even so it still took me 6 or 7 minutes to push up the hill on a good, warm day.
…which this wasn’t.
I shuttered but then dug down deep inside me and pictured a pansy.
I used to often call myself a pansy, someone who’s not so strong, but more recently I’ve come to respect pansies. Even though they are delicate and small, they’re pretty dang tough. I’ve seen them grow in the snow, their colors in full bloom under a blanket of white that cripples other flowers.
So I pulled the lightweight hood of my sweater over my head and took a deep breath (then coughed a little because the frozen air popped some air sacs in my lungs…). I furrowed my eyebrows and called myself a pansy – a small, seemingly weak and delicate flower/person who WILL show my colors in the snow and ice – and shut the car door.
The walkway up the hill leading to the temple was totally empty, I thought I’d for sure see someone going inside and catch a ride with them, but no luck. It was just me, this dang wheelchair, and the bitter, biting cold. This “hill” maybe wouldn’t be called a hill by most people, it was just a big incline up to the reflection pond, but to me and anyone else on wheels, it’s a hill. A mountain, maybe, when it’s cold. And surely it was Mt. Everest this day as I struggled to climb it. My wheelchair wheels don’t turn as well when they’re cold and my numb hands kept slipping off the frozen tires, making me slip back an inch or two for every few inches forward I went. Halfway up the hill my hands were so cold I had to stop in the blizzard to put them under my frozen legs for a minute s they could thaw.
When I was able to feel my hands again (slightly), I resumed my push. It must have taken me ten minutes, maybe more, to get from the parking lot to the front doors, but I finally made it inside the temple to the warm lobby.
My hands were dripping wet and icy and frozen so I waited for quite a few minutes until my hands thawed enough to go again. I was sure my bright pink hands matched my frozen face peering out from the lightweight hood. Not exactly a pretty pansy, but a tough one nonetheless.
The temple workers were very nice and, once they saw me, I didn’t push myself another inch. As they pushed me to the locker room, I got some flak for not wearing a coat, but it’s harder to push my wheelchair with long sleeves on. However, maybe a coat would have been a lot smarter this blistering day. Oh well.
I changed my clothes and got a handful of names that needed some initiatory work. As I read them over, one name stood out. I sat frozen, holding the one name with both thawing hands and reading it over and over. In my mind flashed the fierce winds outside. The frozen air. The hill I’d climbed…
There might have not been anyone that I could see on that cold path to the temple that morning, but I was seen on that path. Heavenly Father saw me and my “pansy” efforts to do temple work and He gave me a friend I could do some work for, someone He thought could relate. Someone with a very descriptive middle name that just as well could be my own as I held in my thawing hands the name Eva Pansy Kimberly.
She was born in the 1800s and my guess is that she was a lot like me. Maybe a little weak physically, but strong nonetheless and willing to show her colors through the icy storms that entered her own life. I guess God was telling me that, yes, I truly was a pansy, and the snow might be heavy, but beneath it all I was still in full bloom.