Cold Hands Warm Heart?


if you’re like me – a human being with a detectable pulse – then you’ve had the experience of ‘cold feet’.

the paralyzing paranoia that emerges from a prehistoric place within us when facing our fears of the phantom future, our phobia of having to fling ourselves in faith off of the precipice of precaution on the wings of wonder into the mistrals of mystery.

and while i’ve had copious chances to confront (and be confronted by) my various consternations concerning life in all its aspects over the past year or so, the issue that has arisen for me is not so much a matter of ‘cold feet’.

it’s cold hands.

no ‘quotes’.


like this.

it’s not an unusual phenomenon given the weather this time of year (winter). whether you live in western Montana or northern California (or, like me, you temporarily live in both).

there are plenty of usual ways and means to relieve the phenomenon. wear gloves. turn up the heater. blow some of that astronomic amount of hot air in your pleurai onto your phalanges.

i’ve tried all of those normal remedies, and still my hands suffer in this suspended state of sub-thermal asymmetry and strangled circulation.

it’s not the end of the world, i know. there are potential ‘bright sides’ to this sensory scenario.

‘cold hands, warm heart’.

or so the slogan goes.

the problem for me is that, pretty much as long as i’ve breathed on this big blue ball, i’ve always had WARM hands. (and, hopefully, more often than not, a warm heart.)

i’ve been one of those people who can take someone else’s frigid hand in mine and wrap it in warmth, helping that person to regain a sense of serenity (and even lower their pulse a bit in the process).

i’m not used to having someone approach me, shake my hand in greeting, and respond like they just touched a zombie arisen from a frozen tomb.

i’ve searched the globe (read: Google) in search of the possible causes of my arctic appendages.

the results of my quest were as varied as politicians’ answers to the same questions between the start and end of a campaign, and as helpful as the ‘negotiations’ in our congress to avoid falling off of the ‘fiscal cliff’.

heart disease. arthritis. Raynaud’s Syndrome. ‘Wicked-Witch-of-the-West-Phenomenon’.

(NOTE: last one does not exist, although lately i have flinched and cried out ‘Oh, what a world!’ when entering the shower.)

since my doc told me at my last physical (a year ago) that i don’t need another one until i’m 50 (two more years), i don’t think i’m suffering from any of those conditions.

but then i came across an explanation from an online doc that was much more straightforward, and made much more sense.



living in unexpected ‘limbo’ for an extended period of time has had a dramatic and demonstrable impact on me…volitionally and vocationally, relationally and religiously, sensorially and spiritually, psychically and physically.

living on the ‘High Anxiety/Low Employment Diet’ and running on the ‘dreadmill’ may have increased my perspiration and decreased my girthification (by around 40-ish pounds), but it has not helped my hands in their perpetual state of refrigeration.

living through rejection (from without and within) can lead to circumspection and introspection, self-protection and self-reflection.

having your life ripped open by unpredictable circumstances and unanticipated changes often results in holding onto whatever you have left.

grievances become grudges.

heartbreaks become hatred.

a soul created for the warmth of wonder and the liberty of love grows calcified in captivity and frigid with fear.

calloused feelings, clenched fists.

cold heart, cold hands.

until last Monday.

Mendocino Monday.

sitting alone on my beautiful bluff, my craggy cathedral, on a brilliantly blustery day.

the surging surf smashes upon the splintered rocks, showering a spray into the sky like swirls of sacred smoke rising to the heavens.

the wintry wind is whipping around and through my body, cutting through my flimsy sweatshirt and t-shirt like an icy scalpel into the bedrocked base of my being.

my hardened heart is uncovered, loveless.

my hyperborean hands are exposed, gloveless.

my salty tears saturate my senses, spilling out of my sinuses and over the strand, synthesizing with the spray.

and in the midst of this glacially gorgeous and gut-wrenching experience, i notice something.

my breathing has deepened.

my pulse has calmed.

my frigid fists are gradually unclenching.

my loveless heart is slowly softening.

and my gloveless hands are warm.

open hands, open heart.




To see more of Brian’s writing, check out the Brian Marsh main page here at Make it Missoula. And for even more, check out his personal blog, Apocalypso Now.


i’m a wanderer and a wonderer. a percussive and paradoxical pastor who exists happily (and hope-full-y) at the intersection of doubt and faith. journeying with my unique and special family (my wife, Kirsten, and sons, Ian and Trevor) whilst temporarily splitting my time between two unique and beautiful places (Missoula, Montana and Ukiah, California). restless and lazy, usually amazed, always in process, i’m continually surprised and usually delighted at discovering the extraordinary in the ordinary, the ‘sacred’ in the ‘secular’, the shafts of light that sneak into the shrouds of darkness. i drum decently, surf poorly, love multicultural food, music, and community, and living in the ‘Zoo.