It didn’t take long for everyone to grow weary of the snow. In the south, the first snow is greeted as an almost sacred event, complete with Advent-like waiting, rituals (ice cube in the toilet, pajamas worn backwards, regional variations of snow songs and snow dances), meditative practices (sitting next to the phone or in front of the television, eyes closed, praying for a herald’s voice announcing the close of school), and, after long anticipation, the holy day itself, the first falling flakes sending everyone into praise.
I think we love it so much because it is, at least in these parts, a rare thing to behold. But this year familiarity has bred contempt. And I would say that most of us regard this latest blast of snow with a good deal of contempt. Schools have already been out for eight days this winter, bread and milk are once again leaving the grocery shelves, and southerners are displaying their complete inability to safely navigate the slippery roads. The snowflakes that only a couple of months ago brought squeals of joy now bring cries of protest.
We welcome the first snow and gladly receive its gifts. After that, the gifts begin to lose their luster until, by now, we see it as less gift and more curse.
But it remains true that if I go outside tonight and look out on this blanketed landscape, I will be greeted by a silent field of white, no less beautiful in the fourth iteration than the first. The time I can spend with my daughter, free of the constraints of the school day and the relentless march of assignments and projects, will be just as life-giving in February as it was in December. The joy of watching children bundled against the cold taking off down a hillside, screams of joy trailing behind them, is just as luminous today as on that first day.
The gifts are the same. The only thing that keeps me from receiving them with joy and thanksgiving is my own relentless need for the world to conform to the schedule I have set, for the times that belong to God to somehow correspond to the times as I conceive them.
Each day brings its own gifts, and not one day passes that does not contain within it blessings from Almighty God. The only thing that keeps me – keeps us – from seeing them, receiving them, and living into them, is my own ego, my own need to be sovereign.
As I type this, I am looking out the window of my study on another snowy landscape, and already I am worrying about the drive home, grousing about yet another Wednesday night cancellation of my all-important Bible study, angry that I’ll have to stop for bread and milk, and thinking about all the work I need to do tomorrow that may not get done if I can’t get back over here. And yet, somewhere deep within, another voice is vying for my attention, inviting me to step outside and see beyond the inconvenience, beyond the worry, beyond my ego – and receive the gift of the day, in all its glory.
I hope I can embrace the gift and receive the grace, to heed that voice this snowy night, and tomorrow, and all my days.
Time to get on the road to home – – gifts await. Who knows, maybe we’ll put our pajamas on backgrounds, place an ice cube in the toliet, listen for the herald announcing the closing of school, and dance the snow dance deep into the night.
I remember growing up in Minnesota how much we loved the ice skating, the snowball fights, and the angels in the snow. My very favorite memories are of ice fishing tournaments with my Dad, made all the better if there was beautiful, fresh snow on the ice. And the only time we got out of school was when the temperature was more than 30 degrees below zero (to avoid small children freezing at the bus stop). Now I am a Southerner. And I am spoiled and prone to complaining when things don't go my way. Chris, you have inspired me to go for a long walk this evening!