Cold Hands, Warm Heart

This morning, for the second time this week, I had to scrape ice off of my windows before I could make my way to work, after dropping off some books at the library that I have read [1] before heading over Cooper Mountain into work. Being someone whose hands and feet have often been a subject of concern in life, I was struck by the way that I could feel the chill in my arthritic limbs as I went about my business, doing my best not to let it hinder me, but noting it all the same, as I am wont to do. Judging from what I saw, it seemed like a fairly slow day for almost everyone else around me for one reason or another, which was not helped by the large amount of pie that was left for us, of which I managed to indulge in two slices of pumpkin pie and one slice of apple pie in the course of my breaks and lunch, in addition to my usual salad and soup. It was pleasing, I suppose, to enjoy a slight bit of a food coma that I did deserve in contrast to the usual food coma that one does not deserve.

The expression “cold hands, warm heart,” is a bit of a cliché that is commonly said in reference to people whose chilly exterior appearance hides a warm and compassionate heart that cannot often be seen by others. As human beings, we are prone to judge others based on appearances, and while this process benefits those who are skilled at dealing with external appearances, it can often mislead us into incorrect judgments and interpretations of others if we are looking to surface appearance as a basis of who to think highly of and who do disregard. There are, of course, many reasons why people would have cold hands and a warm heart. Some people do not have the best circulation, for example, and find it a struggle to keep their hands and feet warm. My own concern in this regard tends to leave me to wear socks almost all the time, even though it is often comical coming from where I was raised, where warm temperatures make such a habit seem very quirky and unusual. For others, the coldness of hands is more of a metaphorical expression to describe someone’s slight chill and remoteness in dealing with others, that may not always reveal the true extent of someone’s warmth and compassion as a person. Some people, for reasons of self-defense, choose not to let others know their loving nature, because of the vulnerabilities of a tender heart in a cold world full of harsh cruelty.

At least one time, the expression was used to signal a particularly moving understanding of love and exploration. In the 1964 season of the television show The Outer Limits, the expression serves as the title of an episode that stars future Star Trek lead actor William Shatner as a space explorer whose efforts to visit Venus lead him into a dangerous alien encounter that give him recurring nightmares and an increasing inability to stay warm [2]. The closing narration gives a bit of a chill in reflecting upon life: “The eternal, never-ceasing search for knowledge often leads to dark and dangerous places. Sometimes it demands risks not only of those who are searching, but of others who love them. These, in their own special way, know that knowledge is never wasted, nor is love.” This is not only true when dealing with fictional space explorers, but those whose explorations are far more mundane. Our lives are full of dark and dangerous places that demand risks not only of ourselves, but also those who love us, in the hope that neither the knowledge or the love are ever wasted.

Recently, I had the chance to look at a rather chilling graphic that compared a pictorial representation of the men, women, and children who traveled across the Atlantic in 1620 to settle Plymouth and a second graphic that highlighted how few of them were left alive at the first Thanksgiving about a year later. We who seek to give thanks to God for His blessings do not always understand the dark path that people took whose example serves as a model for us. Those who celebrated the first Thanksgiving, in a festival strongly reminiscent, if not directly taken, from the biblical Feast of Tabernacles were those who had survived a cold and grim New England winter without having been able to do much in the way of farming or harvesting, in a strange and unfamiliar land. Their gratitude at having survived the experience was a gratitude based on knowledge of the alternatives to enjoying a bounteous blessing. To learn how to appreciate the graciousness of God is sometimes like appreciating the gentle and tender heart of someone with chilly hands—sometimes we cannot see the heart inside. May we learn to be more merciful and appreciative with others, as God has extended grace to us.

[1] See, for example:

[2] See, for example:,_Warm_Heart

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in Christianity, History, Musings and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Cold Hands, Warm Heart

  1. Pingback: That’s A Waste Of Good Chicken | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Misnagdim | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: Book Review: Enemies Of The Heart | Edge Induced Cohesion

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