When I was growing up, we used to have a Christmas snow globe. If you wound it up, it would play a lovely Christmas carol. But you could also shake the large globe and snow would delicately swirl around the Christmas tree. Something about the snow globe was mesmerizing. I would wind up the music, shake the globe, and just stare into the glass. There was something so peaceful about that globe – like a perfect world inviting me in to the snowy calm.
Of course, there were no snow blowers, plows, or ice melt in the snow globe. There were no grumpy people shoveling out sidewalks and cars before the snow gets too heavy or the snow turns to a thick layer of ice. No one was slipping on ice, sliding into a car accident, or shivering without shelter. No, the snow globe does not invite that kind of realism. The snow globe only captures the magical moment of freshly fallen, untouched snow, and dreamy winter.
Too often, we choose to keep gazing at snow globes, or to create our own snow globes. We stare into snow globes because the destruction, hate, and violence of the world have caused compassion fatigue. We create our own snow globes to insulate ourselves from the outside world so that we do not have to encounter the other. Today our church delivered holiday gifts for seven families who live in a large public housing development. As soon as we parked our car to drop off the gifts, I knew we were not in our snow globe anymore. As a priest, those in need often come to me. Today, I stepped onto their territory and it was a helpful reminder of how insulated my world can be if I create a globe around it.
The funny thing is that once I stepped out of snow globe, I did not slip on the ice. I did not feel a sense of burden or dread. Instead, people greeted me – making sure that I saw them. Instead, a resident saw my colleague’s clergy collar and asked him to pray with him. His friend said, “Well, while you’re at it, can you pray for my daughter too?” Before I knew it, six of us were holding hands in the middle of this housing development, praying for health, wholeness, and the birth of our Savior. I don’t know about you, but that’s better than any snow globe I can create. What snow globes have you been looking into or what snow globes have you inadvertently created? Join me this week as we pull our gazes away from the world of pretend protection and into the world of blessed encounter.