I’m a little cranky. I know, you can’t believe it, can you? (Evidently, you don’t spend enough time with me away from church.) On this particular day that I am referencing, I’m cranky because while I love to shovel snow, what I love about it is seeing the results of my labor.
On this day that I am referencing, I have shoveled snow three times within a 24-hour span. I began last Thursday afternoon with our surprise November snowstorm. I went out all excited in the afternoon, after we had decided to close the Church Office at lunch and get home while we could. I was in my glory shoveling. And then as I finished that far end of my corner property sidewalk and strolled back to my garage all proud and satisfied, I realized that I already had another half-inch of snow covering what I had just finished shoveling. <sigh> So I went inside, warmed up a bit, grabbed a bit of dinner and went out after dinner to re-shovel everything. As I started the snow I realized it sported a modest upper crust of ice, from the change-over from snow to sleet. No biggie. I got it done and felt satisfied once again. Then upon arising to a sunny morning, I saw that the snow plow overnight had plowed in my driveway and my mailbox. And as I ventured out to shovel for the third time in 20 hours, it became immediately clear that the slushy, sleety mix from the previous night had formed into a Maginot Line between my driveway, sidewalks and the street. I attacked it … my love of shoveling snow was a distant memory … and the violence of my digging and tossing was slightly embarrassing … these stubborn walls of snow had gotten my goat and ruined an activity I typically love. <arghh>
Later in the day I ventured out by car to check on my mom, and as I left by the east end of my neighborhood, I passed the scene you see in the cover picture to this email. Ten snowmen (don’t miss the two tiny ones in front of the 2nd and 3rd snowmen from the right), clearly birthed the day before, given their anemic appearance come Friday afternoon. Ten snowmen built for no other purpose than to give passers-by the pleasure of an unusual winter scene in an unexpected venue. I drove past them slowly … and then stopped and turned around and pulled over to the side of the road and admired them some more. I found myself smiling broadly, my crankiness melting away. I run the risk being seen as overly dramatic and emotive if I say this was a God-moment in which my spirit was lifted into the presence of joy in spite of my stubborn crankiness. But … my spirit was lifted into the presence of joy in spite of my stubborn crankiness. If God did not orchestrate the joyful respite directly, then God did place the capacity for such playful joy as this in those anonymous midwives who brought this moment to birth. I thank them without even knowing who they are.
Sometimes we are inclined to presume there are grand plans behind the events that populate our days. Who’s to say whether or not our great God is a grand puppet master, with fingers on every heart string, every moment of importance, every thread of life. But might we not also consider that God simply infuses the world with joy and the vibrancy of life. And might we not consider the natural corollary to that first premise … namely that the potency of God’s joy is so strong that it demands to be loosed … not because each expression is a planned and orchestrated moment, but simply because it is too powerful to be bound. Maybe God’s joy cannot be bound by our malaise, nor by our sadness, nor by our sin. Maybe it must find purpose in moments of pure joy … and in moments of unexpected snowmen. I pray that God will surprise you with moments of robust grace, in the image of snowmen … and in other manifestations. I ask you to pray the same for me.