Snow has a way of making people live out the Golden Rule a bit better.
Perhaps this doesn’t happen for all five months of winter, but the first few snowfalls find my vehicular encounters with people more pleasant as a whole. People are more inclined to give extra space, wait for someone to pull ahead of them, use blinkers, and not honk when a car is sliding through the intersection with a clearly red light.
In short, we seem to naturally offer more grace to one another.
As I navigated the snowy roads a few nights ago, I was wondering why we find it more natural to be gracious in such situations, when normal driving conditions often bring out the frustrated side of humanity. Maybe it is because it is in our best interest to be gracious. Although the light may be green, it is clearly better for us to wait until the skidding car careens out of the intersection, rather than race toward it because the light indicates we can. Or maybe we don’t desire an accident and the headache that insurance claims naturally bring about.
But maybe, just maybe, it is because we are able to recognize a connection that goes beyond our personal best interest and draws us together as humans. The journey home in inclement weather gives me this feeling of unity that is similar to what I feel when an ambulance or fire truck or funeral procession passes by. For a moment, we are united by something that surpasses our personal desires and we acknowledge that someone else takes precedence.
Grace is often spoken of in relation to God’s free and unmerited favor toward us. While that is true and necessary, grace is also something we offer one another. The unmerited part is particularly difficult for us, though. Oftentimes, there is a natural sense of justice we have about what another deserves, but grace is giving people what they don’t deserve. We acknowledge what could be a fair response toward them and then we choose to be more generous than needed. And because it is freely given, that means it is a gift. In a moment of difficulty, we choose to bestow upon the other a gift they don’t deserve, but one which might cause them to change in some way.
Continue reading “A Wintry Grace”
I don’t usually watch the weather on TV. If I want to know what is headed my way, I check the weather app on my phone or I look up one of the local TV stations websites to see what is forecasted. But this past weekend, as I visited my parents at their house, we watched the beginning of the news to catch the weather report.
It is winter in South Dakota and so high temps and bright sunshine aren’t always in the forecast. Over Thanksgiving weekend, we had snow, rain, sleet, and the typical gusty wind on the prairie. Yet when the news announced the weather, they told us to brace for unpleasant weather. That ordinarily wouldn’t have seemed so striking, but for some reason, that word unpleasant struck a chord.
Already, before the weather has even hit, they are telling me how I ought to feel about it.
Continue reading “It isn’t unpleasant”
Three things I’m thankful for today:
-The song “Kings and Queens” by Mat Kearney–especially the line “Richer than Solomon with you by my side” as he expertly blends Scripture into his songs
-Weekend food leftovers to power me through the start of another week
-Books: owning them, reading them, and anticipating their arrival
There is something about gratitude that shifts the perspective. A few years ago, I was in the practice of writing down things for which I was thankful. They were often small, inconsequential things. Yet, even now, when I look back at those pages in my notebook, I smile at the glimpse into my heart and life during that time.
A random sampling from my gratitude journal:
3. Principal observation on a movie day
5. Peace after expressing frustration
29. Gusts of wind that make crunchy leaves trip down the road
37. The post-run feeling of health (following the post-run feeling of death)
59. Stretching out in bed at night
69. Eyes crinkled in laughter
80. Heavy hearts sharing the burden through conversation
133. Answered novenas in unhoped for ways
172. Solo supper with Grandma
176. My students telling me which gifts of the Holy Spirit they think I live out
241. Laughter with students instead of going insane
Some of the events I remember. For others, I’m not quite certain to what I was referring, but there is a beauty in seeing what moved my heart to express gratitude. Thankfulness is one of those things that doesn’t quite make sense if there is no God. Who else can I thank for the peace I feel after settling an argument? Or for the wind that causes leaves to swirl around on the ground? These would be mere observations or fleeting thoughts unless they could be expressed to someone responsible for them. Continue reading “Gratitude on a January Day”
I love what snow does to humanity.
Granted, I am not a fan of driving in snow, but I get a strange exhilaration from the experience. In the midst of snow or after a heavy snowfall, I find myself willing humanity to work together. Even though difficulties can sometimes bring out the worst in us, it can also bring out the best in us. Last night, I encountered people driving cautiously and courteously. People were more patient as their fellow drivers struggled to stop at lights or took a couple extra seconds to gain traction.
The snow forces me to be concerned about the other, even if for nothing other than my own self-preservation. I am particularly aware of how far their vehicle is from mine or what I can do to make their commute home a little easier. Instead of only being concerned if I get through the light, I am instead considering what will be best for those with whom I share the road. It is good for humanity to experience the gift of working with each other for the good of all. Continue reading “Snow and Humanity”
The wind is chilling as it caresses my cheek with a frigid wisp of air. Walk quickly, breath in the exhilarating fresh air, and scrunch my shoulders to my ears to keep in the warmth. Of all the things I do, this is one of the things that makes me feel most like an adult. I am hurrying from work to a little chapel, tucked away in a hospital. My feet will lead me out of the wintry cold and into the warmth of a chapel. I will be united with the universal Church in prayer and receiving the Eucharist. I will rest in the pews and hear the readings proclaimed. While I like going to Mass during the school day, I feel most adult-like when I am trudging through the snow on my way to Mass. Something seems so beautiful about that prospect. In college it was typical for people to go to daily Mass often. There were multiple Mass times on campus but it was only when I would go to Mass off-campus, surrounded by people who had come from work or brought the young children from home, that I felt a strong interior gladness. It was as though college was an artificial world and stepping off the campus and into the town I was stepping into reality. I was taking my place among the adults of the world and showing the importance of the Eucharist. The fact that I wasn’t going because it was so accessible or expected, but because I desired to, my heart longed to go.
I love Mass regardless of the season or location. But there is a special beauty found in going to Mass when it is cold outside and the church embraces you like you were in your mother’s womb. The outside world might be cold and hostile, but Mother Church will always take you in, nourish you, and send you back out to fight the good fight.