I grew up in the South, which means I have a particular perspective about the experience of snow. When snow was in the forecast, even a little dusting, schools were usually closed, people stayed off the road, and the grocery store shelves were bare. We did not have the kind of equipment needed for snow removal, so when it snowed, you stayed home. So, when we first moved to Delaware and there was snow in the forecast, I asked my boss whether the office be closed. My boss looked at me like I had three heads, and very slowly explained to me (as though I were mentally incompetent) that we would come into work because the roads would be cleared. I was both reassured by the fact that the roads would be cleared and panicked because I knew how scared I am of driving in the snow.
Eight-plus years of life in Delaware and now two years of life in New York have toughened me up a little, but I still have a healthy fear and dread of snow, in particular for the necessity of driving in it. The good news is that having a four-year old has reopened for me the joy of snow. When we see snow now, she wants to go run, roll, and play in it. She thinks snowballs are hilarious, is very proud of the snow angels she makes, and is a snow cream connoisseur. She whines about the fact that we haven’t purchased a sled (I know; terrible parent!), and she longs to build a snowman (sadly, this winter’s snows have been accompanied by bitterly cold temperatures, so we have not been able to commit to the time outside needed for snowman-building).
So you can imagine my fascination watching the various responses to snow in the South this past week. The things I fear about snow have certainly shown their ugly side – cars were abandoned, people needed ten-plus hours to get home, children had to be left at school overnight until parents could safely get to them. In general, the whole thing seemed like a disaster, with many people pointing fingers of blame. But at the same time, I have also seen photos of children and adults enjoying a rare joy – sledding in the snow, making snowmen and snow angels, and generally getting wet, cold, and having a blast. The sharp contrast between joy and desperation has been so vivid in my mind that it is almost hard to grasp.
Meanwhile, another phenomenon has arisen. Stories have been emerging of people helping each other out of the snow; friends texting, tweeting, and Facebooking about safe places to stay overnight; and teachers staying with children who were totally unprepared for a sleepover at school. I saw a couple of stories of people who stood by highways, offering sandwiches, cocoa, and cereal to anyone who needed it.
The storm has reminded me of the ways in which God’s creation is both fearfully and wonderfully made. I see both the awful things that can happen, and the beautiful ways that God’s people rise above. I see the joy of life that is ready for those willing to find it. As someone who can be a grouch about the snow and what already feels like an interminable winter, I am grateful for the reminder about the beauty and fun that comes with God’s creation too. It truly is both fearfully and wonderfully made.