Living in Georgia all of my life, I have had very few snow days, so nearly every one of them is memorable. I can easily recall one winter ice storm when I was a little boy that took down power lines and waited along with befuddled dairy cows needing badly to be milked for Georgia Power to restore our electricity. Even now, where school is a fading distant memory, there is a bit of hopeful anticipation to see if our school will be cancelled. Throughout Sunday we tracked on television and on the internet the progress of the cold front that was promising to bring us snow, ice and sleet from the heavens. Some, especially those that work outside, saw this as an ominous foreboding. Others, especially students, saw this as a gift from the Creator. I saw this as a nice diversion.
Getting up at my usual hour Monday morning I soon found out that there would be no hospital visits, Rotary Club, or a staff meeting on my agenda. I could not even see our road. Instead, it would be lots of hot coffee, intervals outside with the family, and working by way of the laptop for most of the day. Wet, mushy, thick and cold – snow day!
What is so special about a fresh snowfall that even the most cynical among us cannot refuse? Is it the wonderful blanket of silence that morning snow leaves or those mysterious tracks left behind by some bird, rabbit or squirrel cutting across the yard and into the woods? Have you ever watched a sunset surrounded by snowfall? Breathtaking. Maybe we all just look forward to the chance to redeem our childhood with a snowball fight or building a snowman (or snowwoman).
Snow is beautiful too in its covering up of the old and dead remnants of summer. Outside my front porch is a stand of lifeless brush that once was a thick patch of lantana. It is a little melancholy, poking through all that snow, but poignant too in its on way. What was lush and alive and ready to be dug up and cast away is given a fresh cloak and a fresh perspective.
Maybe that is why so many of us like the snow – it helps us see the same old world differently. It covers the scars and gashes, blankets over and makes all things smooth. Food tastes better, coffee tastes richer and the fireplace feels warmer. Sure, it is all temporary, but even if it is just for a moment we who are blessed with shelter and other basic necessities may be blessed in its offering.
I love this passage from Isaiah:
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall be to the LORD for a memorial, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off. (55:10-13)
Nothing of God is wasted. Nothing of God is unnecessary. Nothing of God is lost. This Sunday I will be preaching a sermon entitled “Changing Your Focus.” I hope that through snowfall and scripture and other acts of testimony we may more faithfully see God moving about in our lives. Goodness knows in this world of hateful rhetoric and meaningless violence we need to see things and one another as God would.
I close with a wonderful poem I filed away not too many years ago by David Budbill.
“Winter: Tonight: Sunset”
Tonight at sunset walking on the snowy road,
my shoes crunching on the frozen gravel, first
through the woods, then out into the open fields
past a couple of trailers and some pickup trucks, I stop
and look at the sky. Suddenly: orange, red, pink, blue,
green, purple, yellow, gray, all at once and everywhere.
I pause in this moment at the beginning of my old age
and I say a prayer of gratitude for getting to this evening
a prayer for being here, today, now, alive
in this life, in this evening, under this sky.