Friday, December 6, 2013

Snow Day

There is no snow on the ground, but we have a snow day today. We are expecting a winter storm to blow through this afternoon, dropping freezing rain on us and leaving 3-7 inches of snow. Cincinnati only gets snowfall like that once or twice a winter, so the schools usually close for a day.

I love snow days. The light is different. Everything is quieter. Even with four children in the house, currently arguing over the precise placement of the figures in the nativity scene, the day seems hushed. We know our job today: it is to stay inside and stay warm. Nothing would please us more.

An old friend told us a story from the seminary she attended. One of the international students was from the tropics, and had never seen snow before. His first winter at this northern US seminary, the first snowfall had come silent and swift in the night while he was sleeping. He woke in the morning and looked out the window at a world completely transformed. Everything was blanketed in white. The sight was so stunning, the student was convinced something apocalyptic had happened. It was a seminary, after all, and he leapt to one conclusion. He ran down the halls of his dorm shouting, "Jesus has come back! Jesus has come back!"

I love that story, even though I wasn't there. Maybe it isn't even true. But I can see myself in it. That's how snowfall feels, even after four decades of living with it. Snow is so ordinary, and so shocking. The sky opens up and stuff falls out and covers the land. If I had not acquired this adult veneer of propriety, I could run through the streets like Chicken Little, announcing every flake. But I am a respectable grown-up, trained to refrain from embarrassing others, so I sit quietly with my ankles crossed and my hands folded, and only my children know my eyes are open as wide as theirs.