What is the old saying about the weather? We always talk about it but no one ever does anything about it. It looks like another dusting of snow this weekend and a bigger storm next week. Oh boy. We wake up buried and schools, work, and church call for a “snow day”. Those snow days have a dynamic all their own.
It might be a day when dad works from home, makes a fire, and is around the children much more. It’s striking how storms can slow us down to refocus us. Of course, before the industrial revolution many days on the farm were just like this. Walter Brueggemann defined sabbath as moments when we “resist the tyranny telling us we must always be productive.” By design, humans need such a time.
This recent Christmas card-letter from a new empty-nester family still rings in my ears. Remember, couples like these should find more time for quiet pause in life.
“We are in the process of adapting to a new way of life,” they write. “In theory it should mean more freedom, but so far the most visible result is having more difficulty saying ‘no’. We try to develop the disciplines of eating dinner together whenever possible and going out for the occasional date. The ‘24/7’ world is seductive and relentless, and the ideal of sabbath rest isn’t greatly honored by our culture. Many of us struggle with how to remain centered in a frenetic world.”
More snow piles up this winter than in recent years. I have noticed that for some the only time we feel permission to desist from being endlessly productive is when a snow day takes it out of our hands and we can’t arrive at the workplace. What does it say about us that we need a raging snowstorm in order to be still, rediscover God, and remember who we are? It gives new meaning to what the insurance companies might mean referring to extreme weather as “acts of God”.
Yes, technology does amplify our productivity. But it does not leave well-enough alone, insatiably asking us to do more and become more productive still. This is a cutting-edge issue in the life of the spirit. It will remain an important challenge for the foreseeable future. How faithful are we as stewards of work and prosperity, rather than allowing jobs to run our lives and our prosperity to own our priorities?
Maybe we can carve out sabbath time by starting Sundays with worship. Maybe turning back to God is the first step in living our lives with a center rather than frittering our energies and living in a frenzy. See you Sunday, if the snow allows!