Thursday, March 6, 2008

Snow Day

It snowed here in Texas today; the giant fluffy flakes spilled out of a leaden sky, taking over the work that some early freezing drizzle had begun. More importantly, at least as far as my girls are concerned, the snow stuck. And accumulated. We had a couple of inches on the ground, and could almost pretend that the defiant bits of grass poking through were totally buried, since only the longest and most recalcitrant blades refused to be covered.

So this afternoon my daughters bundled up as well as children in Texas who don't own snow pants can bundle up, and headed outdoors for a glorious half-hour or so of delirious fun. All those joys they've encountered more often in fiction than real life were theirs, including a snowball fight and the building of a very tiny cute snow mouse--the snow was wet and heavy, and resisted their attempts at larger acts of fragile creation.

And while they were playing, Mr. C. arrived home early--no one wants to drive after dark around here in this sort of weather, though our Northern friends laugh at us for this display of Southern caution. But really, a state like ours isn't equipped to handle the sanding of bridges and overpasses, and traffic bulletins are issued early on, urging drivers to use the utmost care and to curtail unnecessary travel. So I was glad to see Mr. C. home safely in daylight, and helped him sweep snow out of the driveway so our confused garage door would stop thinking there was an obstruction and refuse to remain closed. It was funny for me, born in the Chicago area, to realize that we'd never had to do this before, and probably never will again!

When the girls came in, they had hot showers, warm dry clothes, and steaming cups of tea to chase away the chill. Mr. C. built a fire in our seldom-used fireplace; we all gathered around and dozed on the floor in front of the warm flickering light, while the pot of split-pea soup with ham that I was making for dinner simmered merrily away in the nearby kitchen. It was peaceful; the few remarks we addressed to each other were in whispers, though no one had asked for quiet. The hissing and crackling of the fire, the low howl of the wind, and the bubbling of the soup were the noises we were all enjoying, so our occasional words were soft and low.

Soon it was time to gather around the table for a simple dinner, and more than one of the girls remarked that it had been a perfect day. And it had been.

Days like these are as rare and fragile as the beautiful glittering crystals that fell from the sky this morning are, at least here in Texas. And that's a good thing, even though it may not seem like it at first glance. No, I don't just mean that if we had snow all the time we wouldn't appreciate it; I know that from my own childhood. But whether you live where snow is a common and frequent visitor or a rare and treasured sovereign, the point is not about the snow; it's about the sort of day when everything gets put aside so that for one precious afternoon we can experience God's world, our relationship as a family, and the simple joys of home and hearth in a way that is deeper and richer than we ordinarily can.

It seems as though it would be wonderful if we could live like this all the time, but the paradox is that if we could live like this all the time, we would soon stop appreciating it. What makes a day a treasure in part is this rare and glittering quality, whether it comes from snow, from an infrequent gathering of family or friends, from the contrast with some period of suffering we've managed to pass through, or from some other thing that makes the day stand out in shining and glorious difference. Whatever the case, these days are precious because they are so few, so spontaneously granted, so gratefully enjoyed. In this life, they have to be few, to call forth from our hearts that sense of peace, joy, and thankfulness.

But though they are few here, I have a feeling that they will be our way of life in Heaven, where it will be possible to be at peace without becoming complaisant, to be full of joy without becoming sated with it, and to be thankful forever in the sight of the One to Whom we owe all our hearts' thanksgivings.