So many of us in Northwest Washington are experiencing a barrage of snow, day after day. Yesterday, as snow continued to pile up, I reflected upon some questions from Paula Mitchell, my spiritual director, who recently led “A Day of Prayer and Reflection” at First Presbyterian Church in Port Angeles. Some of the questions included the following:
- Where does your life seem to be unfolding too slowly?
- Where are you tempted to hurry growth?
- Where are you impatient?
- What might God be teaching you as you wait?
The correlation between the need to be patient during what I and others call “the slow work of God,” and the attitudes and actions needed during “snow days” is strikingly clear to me. The reality of present life dictated by snow and the working of the Spirit of God is definitely complementary. My wife Nancy and I are waiting for God to lead us in the next phase of our lives. So what have I learned?
- There is absolute beauty during snow days, especially when one has the luxury of shelter and warmth. It is one thing to see the beauty of snow but it is so much harder to be attentive to our invisible God. So the question is “How do I observe God’s beauty when God seems to be so slow?” The answer can be found in being attentive to “what is,” not what I want or what I expect. I am slowly learning to be attentive to what is in front of me at the present time and that is a foot of snow, but how do I see God in that snow.
- During snow days we take care of the tiny birds on our deck. Care for the birds is what is in front of me at the present time. That is what God is calling me to do right now, not something grand and glorious. Simply care for the tiny birds. I do not have to sit and wait for something else to do, but rather simply take care of God’s creatures.
- Waiting for God, as well as waiting during snow days for roads to open up or warmer weather to come, is all out of my control. Sounds obvious, but for a person who likes to be in control, waiting and giving up control are on-going lessons to be learned.
- Waiting in snow days, and especially waiting through the apocalyptic snows that have hit Sequim, WA (the banana belt region of Western Washington) demands that I reign in my restlessness and stay off the roads. The answer is the same in my relationship with God: I need to wait, not rush ahead, but rather enjoy each moment.
- During this week of intermittent snow there have been “break days” when the snow has stopped, snow plows have been at work, and there is an opening to go out for a mocha and visit family and friends. In waiting for God to show us what might be the next venture in our lives, there are times we simply have to “do what is in front of us,” what is needed at the moment, such as “go out for a mocha and visit family and friends.” That might be exactly what God has in mind for us at the moment.
- These snow days have also allowed Nancy and I the time and opportunity to invite one of our neighbors over for dinner. Waiting for God does not mean we do nothing but sit and pray. We do what we can do in the moment….such as having a meal with our neighbor.
What has God taught you during the snow days?