Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Sabbath of Snow

The weather reports called for lots of snow. Where I live in the mountains, this is nothing unusual, but for the last week in October, this much snow was a bit unusual. Whenever the predictions are for more than a foot or so, some planning is in order. Since my husband works down the hill, he took what he needed to be able to stay with relatives in the Denver area if the roads got too bad. We made sure there was plenty of wood stacked by the wood stove to keep the house warm, put the snow shovel by the door, and checked the snow blower to ensure that it was ready to go. After my husband left for work, I began to prepare for a power outage, just in case; that meant getting the candles out, putting the old analog phone next to a jack, doing the laundry, running the dishwasher, doing some cleaning, and taking a nice, long, hot bath. Since we are on a well, when the power goes out the water doesn't run, you have to plan for that. Finally, I made a list of the things I could do without electricity, which mostly meant doing some writing the old fashioned way - with pen and paper. I was ready!

The snow had already been falling for about twelve hours. It was coming down thick and heavy. Before you know it, there was about a foot and a half on the ground. I went out for the first round with the snow blower the afternoon of the first day. The power was flickering on and off, but so far, we were still up and running. The snow continued for another day and then some. By the time it was all over, we had well over three feet of snow. Schools and businesses closed and cars couldn't go anywhere. The only folks out on the roads were the snow plow drivers. For two days I was home alone keeping the fire going, clearing the snow on the deck and driveway, and working on my computer. I was very thankful that the power hung on!

At times like this, routines are suspended. Life comes to a standstill. I tend to switch into survival mode - do what needs to get done to make it through. I also keep in touch with the ones I love. I spent a lot of time on the phone with my husband, kids, parents, and friends. We were all checking in with each other. What was happening? Was everyone safe and sound? What was everyone doing? Assured that everyone was fine, I could relax into the experience and treasure the spaciousness and quiet. These snow days can be Sabbath times: times for quiet, reflection, rest, and re-creation.

Sabbath time is a gift that we give to ourselves. In the past, a weekly Sabbath time was the norm for most folks. The Sabbath day was a time for God and family. Businesses were closed and day to day chores were put on hold. Even recreational activities were not scheduled. The other day of the weekend was the day for sports tournaments and yard work. But over the years, the discipline of Sabbath has been lost in our culture. I know plenty of people who spend their weekends playing so hard that they are exhausted by the time they return to work on Monday. We work and we play. These are needful things. But rest and re-creation is frequently dropped from the equation. It is no wonder that Americans have trouble sleeping - we have lost the discipline and practice of rest and renewal. Maybe snow days can be a reminder for us.

On a snow day, when routines are suspended and life comes to a standstill, perhaps there is an invitation. We are invited to enter into a Sabbath time. We are gifted with the time, the space, and the quiet that are necessary to be with God and family. We can take some quiet time and not feel like there is something more worthwhile we should be doing. The snow day invites us to experience the gift of Sabbath but it is up to us to engage it with intention. Once we have tried it a few times and begin to appreciate the value of it, then we can promise ourselves that we will go against the cultural inertia and regularly give ourselves the gift of Sabbath. It may take a lot of planning and preparation. We might have to be determined. We might have to say no to other invitations. We might have to miss out on other enticing opportunities. We might fail. But I believe the gift of Sabbath is one that contributes to health and happiness in life. Sabbath can help us to engage the rest of life with more energy and enthusiasm. Sabbath transforms our busy lives with a touch of that peace that passes understanding. Sabbath is a very worthwhile discipline and practice. This is age old wisdom that has been neglected in our culture. Perhaps it is time to recapture it.

1 comment:

  1. This one really hit home for me...I never give myself a moment of quite. I agree this is important and even required for a well balanced life, thanks for the reminder.