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What to Do When You’re Snowed In

Snowed In

This weekend, those of us on the East Coast of the United States got several feet of snow dumped on us. It’s one of the biggest blizzards ever recorded in this part of the world, and it’s quite a sight to behold.

Here in Washington, DC, we’re not used to this kind of weather. We got about an inch of snow a few days before the main event, and we ended up with snarled traffic, massive accidents, and 8-hour commutes for some unlucky travelers. Given the amount of trouble caused by one inch of snow, I was a little concerned about what might happen when we got 20-30.

I’m happy to report that our family has made it through the blizzard without too much trouble. There’s been a lot of snow-shoveling, and we’re getting a little stir-crazy from this snow-imposed house arrest, but we’re mostly just feeling blessed to be in a warm, well-stocked home with electricity.

For me, the most remarkable thing about this storm is simply the way it has been able to immobilize an entire region. My city is full of ambitious go-getters, and we like our freedom to move. But this weekend, we didn’t have that option. The weather gave us no choice but to stay put, drink our warm beverage of choice, and contemplate the power of nature demonstrating itself right outside our window.

For me, this snowstorm is a reminder of my own powerlessness – not just before the occasional weather event, but in every sense. For all my pride and independence, the reality is that I don’t have nearly as much control over my life as I like to imagine. At best, I have choices to make about how I will respond to a universe that is vast and unsympathetic to my attempts to direct it. I’m “snowed in” all the time, whether I recognize it or not.

I’m wondering what it looks like for me to lead a life of joy, hope, and faithfulness in the midst of the snow. What would my life be like if I were both fully surrendered to my circumstances and at the same time on alert for how I could cooperate with God’s movement in the midst? What does it look like to stay awake, to trust, and to demonstrate love in a world that is so amazingly out of control? Snowed-in as I am, how can I be a person of peace who keeps the lights on and the house warm for all who visit?

Related Posts:

There’s a Storm Coming. Are You Ready?

Should I Fear God?

  • AndrewAMcLeod

    There’s an excellent book by Rebecca Solnit describing the ways that community flowers in the wake of disasters: “A Paradise Built in Hell.” It includes some really interesting information about how Dorothy Day was radicalized by her perception of the Kingdom of God breaking through after the great 1906 earthquake. There seem to be a variety of downloadable excerpts, although I’m not sure how that fits with properly compensating Solnit for her work (side note, I’ve never seen a cent from Amazon’s sales of my book, even assuming that they deliver right now).

    I moved to DC a few weeks before the 2011 snow, and I have a lot of fond memories of how the usual boundaries between neighbors collapsed. Within a day or two, groups of us had formed up to walk through the areas of Takoma Park with no power and make sure that everyone was warm enough. A few days later a couple of neighbors and I spent an afternoon digging out a bus stop and mailbox (the latter was buried under a particularly nasty pile of ice chunks from a plowed intersection – those memories are less fond).

    So rejoice in the breakdown of barriers. We’re all in this together!

    • Definitely noticing a different environment on the streets today as people dig out!