I’m pretty sure snow days are a trick from God. They are kind of like guaranteed Sabbaths. And we hardly know what to do with them. Yes, I know this doesn’t apply to emergency personnel, don’t email me, but in general, snow days force us into rest we have no idea how to navigate.
Having just weathered our region’s most recent Snowmegeddon, the mood of the community is intriguing.
Early in the week snowfall models were being kicked around like a soccer ball in a preschool league. Our local resident snow lover, widely suspected of practicing naked snow dances, kept us well informed of the coming apocalypse. Predictions of snow anywhere from 3 inches to 24 inches to your-guess-is-as-good-as-mine had everyone raiding the milk and bread aisles at all the local grocery stores. After a fairly mild winter thus far, it wasn’t exactly panic in the streets; there was actually a peculiar level of excitement and anticipation. Rather than wondering what we needed to survive, folks were wondering what they needed to have a good time while stuck indoors.
Social media overflowed with reports of grocery store crowds. A few cranky folks were grousing, but instead of the usual snide commentary on the state of American public greed and rudeness generated by holiday crowds, people began reporting pleasant interactions with those waiting in 30-minute lines. Standing in long lines gives one a chance to chat, if you are so inclined. People will tell you about their ills. They will share their stories. A mutual weather event, escaped by no one, give us something in common. And guess what?
Discovering what we have in common, creates community.
It’s not much more complicated than that. I, for one, saw several people at the grocery that I haven’t laid eyes on in months. A storm throws off everyone’s regular shopping schedule and it became our town’s own social mixer. We get to see each other in a new way. And it’s a tad bit revealing…. Do you really buy bread and milk for a weather event or are you picking up the necessities of chips, chocolate, and something stronger than milk? I don’t actually crave milk or bread on a warm sunny day; why would I crave them now, I ask you? Donuts are a far more interesting version of bread and we make them from scratch whenever we get snowed in. So oil and flour it is.
Snow began to fall on schedule and by the time open movement was prohibited, or at least discouraged by the authorities, we settled in to see how bad it would get. Of course, to the chagrin of emergency responders, the authoritatively rebellious simply couldn’t resist driving around just to see and report on conditions. Or to simply gather at the local coffee shop to compare notes on the apocalyptic storm. My own husband made no less than three trips out to do something of grave importance. He will answer to God and the police for that.
Social media kept us informed of rising snow levels and the general mood of the community. Folks were happy. Folks were making snow cream. Folks were playing games. Men were watching Downtown Abbey without complaint. If folks were doing anything else, we will likely know in nine-ish months. It was a glorious day for nearly everyone.
But after a bit, the natives get restless.
As much as we anticipated this weather event, which by the way totally lived up to the hype, it became obvious that we run out of things to do. We just aren’t sure how to sit still. I can totally relate. Here I am blogging because this is how responsible folks kill time. Or something. Seriously, I am aghast at how hard it is for us to just STOP. Just stop and play in the snow. Just stop and let our work wait. Just stop and take a nap. Jesus napped. We should nap.
Isn’t this what the Sabbath is all about? A chance to sit still and rest from our labor. God did it. We should do it. But our greedy little selves think we could get one more thing done, which will put us ahead (or catch us up) in our careers, our finances, or our to-do lists.
If anything is killing our ability to routinely rest with a life-giving rhythm, it might be our ambitions.
Perhaps it is time to pare those down a bit. What exactly is worth accomplishing in this lifetime? Yet, we keep plugging away at our petty goals. So God sends the snowstorm of the season. Just keep calm and hunker down. Spring will come. Your work will be there when it thaws. Your lists will wait for you. As this storm demonstrates; we will stop when we have to. But we usually have to be forced to shut down.
Keeping the Sabbath or even practicing a regular period of rest seems so old-fashioned these days. We either follow it with a judgmental legalism or we abandon it altogether for the freedom we find in Christ. I am all about freedom, but I suspect that God had more in mind than a silly rule when he chose to rest in the first week of the calendar. Surely his physical being didn’t even need the reprieve. But we do. Physically, intellectually, and relationally, we need downtime and restoration.
When we allow his rhythm to rule our lives, we will not only get more done, we will be more sane for the process. We can learn to trust him with the things we worry about. We can choose to be satisfied with the things we can actually accomplish. We can learn to rest. We can anticipate downtime with excitement. Even without an apocalyptic weather event.