This week I was supposed to be visiting my family up in Wichita, KS… but… covid… and as I enjoy my 60/70 degree highs here in Houston, I realize maybe it’s not the worst thing to stay south for the winter.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my family and I’m crushed to be missing this time with them, but growing up in the Midwest, the radio used to say all the time that Wichita was the home of the wind chill. You’ve got those wide-open fields with nothing to block the wind, mix in the usual winter temperatures of highs in the 30s and lows in the 20s, and it is PRETTY CHILLY there this week.
Although we were the “home of the wind chill” (which I’m pretty sure was a self-appointed title), I never really understood wind chill, not fully. I just imagined it was: cold air makes you cold. It seems simple.
Then last year I learned that every inch of your body has a thin layer of warm moist air surrounding it. This layer of air surrounding your body helps to keep you warm. It flows up towards your head. (Why your mom always made you wear a hat to keep you warm!) When the wind blows, it takes away your little layer of warm air. The wind leaves that part of your body exposed, making it feel colder than the rest of the body that still has its warm layer.
This was just a theory for a while. Then Schlieren optics were discovered. This is an optical technique that is able to visualize very small changes in the refractivity of air. It can visualize the difference to the air in the room versus your thin layer of warm air surrounding you. Here are some examples, the left showing the layer all the way around, the right showing it flowing up from the head.
WHOA! It is truly amazing how many aspects of this world that our eyes can’t see without some help. Here I talk about some unseen protection from the coldness of the world, but there’s something similar in Catholic teaching too, GUARDIAN ANGELS!
As a child I was always told that I had a guardian angel, but as I got a little older I thought it was just a fairy tale like fairies or the boogey man. It wasn’t until later in life that I learned that the presence of guardian angels was an official teaching of the Catholic Church. Officially declared as dogma in 1215 at the Fourth Lateran Council, from the moment of conception until a person's last breath, a guardian angel surrounds each human being with their watchful care and intercession.
Our protective layer of warm air is easily displaced by a burst of air, but our guardian angel is always with us. No matter what we do or what the world throws at us, our guardian angel is always there to guide us toward heaven. Some days we make that job a little bit harder on them and they can probably relate to these silly memes.
Hopefully we have days where we make that job a bit easier:
This life can be cold and difficult. It is important for us as Christians to always have hope. One helpful tip for maintaining that hope is remembering we are not alone. Even in the darkest times, your guardian angel is there and working in your best interest, helping you to get to heaven. St. Padre Pio once said that guardian angels protect us “like a friend, like a brother. This ought to be a constant consolation for us."
Today I encourage you to pray to your guardian angel. Ask for protection, say a prayer of thanksgiving that they have protected you this far. Here is the common prayer to our guardian angel, may it bring you comfort and hope this day.
Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God's love commits me here, ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.