When I got to college, I realized — to my shock — that there were none. If you lived on campus (and pretty much all of us did), there was no reason not to hold class. We made up for it, though, with the Freshmen Snowball Fight: hundreds of us out on the lawn between our dorms, and snowballs flying every which way, hitting it-mattered-not-whom. And the laughter, it revived the heart.
Many years later, when I moved to Connecticut from LA, that firstgood snowfall I walked for miles with my dog in the darkness, all the sounds muffled, the trees and lawns and porches sparkling like diamonds in the streetlights. It was a kind of coming home.
Today, the streets were empty in DC, the schools shuttered, the government offices empty. Driving out early to run a necessary errand that took me out into the Maryland countryside, it came to me that snow days are the closest thing we have, these days, to Sabbath. They confront us with the limits on what we can do, sideline us from our daily activities, help us to see that the world really does go on without us for a day. They liberate us from the insistent clamor of voices telling us what we “must” do, “right now.”
For some people, of course, this was no day off. The plow drivers, the EMTs in the ambulances, the emergency room staff, power company workers, all of these found that their work was crucial. Give thanks for them. But, if you are not one of them, savor your time. It is a gift.
It is always a gift, of course. That’s what days like this one show us: the great grace just to be alive, that we do not have to earn it by the sweat of our brow, that it is God’s wish that you enjoy your days on this good earth.
What did you do with your empty hands, your empty time? Did you savor the gift?