If it wasn’t obvious from my posts this weekend, I’ll let you in on a little something. I like snow. Really, I just love the stuff. I like being out in snow storms, I like skiing in the snow both during and after the storm. I like sledding down hill at breakneck speeds, and I would love, just for one precious time, to ride a luge. I like the smell of the air during storms and of course the beauty of the world the next day, while all the snow still clings to the trees and the world is painted in white, is undeniable.
Most of all I like how quiet the world gets while it’s snowing. It’s an odd dynamic that makes nearby sounds almost disappear, while distant sounds suddenly become much more noticeable.
I remember when we were kids. It seemed like it snowed more back then and we had so much fun playing outside building forts, throwing snowballs and making snowmen. In fact one of the reasons I ended up becoming a news junkie was because of my love for snow. Beginning in about November every year, I would turn on the news everyday at and sit patiently waiting for the weather report and for any news of possible storms headed our way. Of course, I also ended up becoming interested in other things going on in the world since the nightly reporting began to create a narrative of what was happening in the world.
So snow, to paraphrase Garrett Morris, has been very good to me.
Somehow though, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that increasingly my little club of snow lovers has diminished. I’d dare say that at this point in my life we who love the snow are living as a shrinking minority. Sure, we still have the kids in our club, but our peers increasingly look at us like we’re nuts when we say with glee, “it looks like we’ll get 6 inches tonight!”
This saddens me for the obvious reasons. To this day when it snows I know that it means a chance to get outside in a season that is too often spent indoors. More importantly, it is an opportunity to see the world in an entirely new light, albeit a fleeting one. It is the temporary nature of a new snow that makes it so valuable; the ultimate depreciating asset I suppose. From the minute the storm stops, to the moment when the last speck of white melts away we’ve been given a gift of rare beauty that demands that we stop and take notice.
This really is the funny thing about God’s world though isn’t it? As with so many of life’s blessings we are presented an option. We can, of course, decide to focus on the negative aspects of a storm. We have to drive slower, perhaps even cancel a trip. We have to go outside and shovel the driveway, and maybe help the elderly neighbor next door. We might lose the old tree that has been a joy every spring in our front yard.
Too often we tend to see these obvious and disappointing aspects. Each, however, has a flipside that is its own reward if we just take the time to appreciate them. Sure, we have to slow down, or cancel an event, but this is just an opportunity to relax and enjoy the beauty of the moment. Shoveling can indeed be a hassle, but would we have had the chance to be outside in the crisp air taking a breather from the work, and enjoying the quiet of the moment had it not snowed? Would we have otherwise taken the time to help a neighbor in need? Of course it is sad when a beloved tree dies, but is it not also a chance to plant anew; to begin new traditions that both us and future generations will enjoy?
We have been given the gift of free will in our lives and a snow storm is a chance, perhaps one of the best chances, to reflect on the beauty of this gift and its corresponding challenge. When the unexpected or inconvenient throws us off of our well charted course how will we react? Will we take up the challenge and find the beauty of the moment, or will we complain about our misfortune.
Perhaps not all of life’s little surprises hold the immediate payoff that finding the wonder in a storm holds, but I think the lesson provided by the snow is one that we all should consider. A snow storm is quiet for a reason I think. Perhaps God is trying to tell us something.