The Big Snow, by Andrée Seu
Though my children are native Texans, I’m of the “got here as fast as I could” variety. “As fast as I could” was age 11, when my family moved to the Dallas area. We moved from Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes, and a winter wonderland in which every child owned his or her own ice skates, snow skis, and sled. Somehow we didn’t get cold back then, even after hours outside. “The Big Snow,” by World Magazine columnist Seu, brings back many fond memories (though in the north they never close the schools), as well as offering a beautiful reminder that this is our Father’s world. will be visiting All Saints in November, to speak at our annual women’s retreat. Over the next few weeks she’ll have several things to say to us, by way of introduction. Melissa
The Big Snow
Because of La Nina, or just because God willed it so (Christians admit no conflict between first and secondary causes), children as far south as North Carolina have been able to sample a northern staple of late. I have imagined them often, cutting out swaths of cardboard, cozying up to the neighborhood kid with the sled, finding the second life of discarded inner tubes, then trudging, with a mission, to the highest hill in town.
The school is closed–the brick and mortar edifice, that is. Classes will be held today in the original one-room schoolhouse, the one fashioned not with human hands, the one God made long before anyone ever thought of herding kids into rigid rows and bolting them in desks, having checked their frogs and rabbit’s feet at the door.
Math will be measuring the difference of distance between Billy’s
toboggan and Vinny’s saucer. Science will be stopping to examine a
six-pointed crystalline miracle of engineering caught on the mitten.
Health class will be experiencing instead of learning by rote. Social
Studies will be pondering strange phenomenon of strangers, who never
smile as they pass you on the street all year, now waving like ling
lost friends or comrades in arms.
They say God whispers in our pleasures and shouts in our pain, and
maybe this is true, but He is audible enough to me this day, as Aimée,
Calvin, and I stake out our course in the summit of Glenside Elementary
ridge. I had told Reverend Min when he called to check on me recently
that life has simplified itself considerably: “I will live for Him,” I
said. Min replied, “It‘s not so much even living for Him, as living in
His blessings.” It was not a correction but I stood corrected; the
pastor’s accent was in a better place than mine: What do we render to
God after all? Only trust in Him, and He sends showers of blessings
before and behind. Does it get any better than this?
If there is a downside to snow it is also its upside, a grace
disguised. Did we say to ourselves, “Today or tomorrow we will go into
such and such a town…trade and make profit”? Ought we not to have said
instead, “If it is the Lord’s will…”? Accept God’s holiday and stay
home. Motorists on the parking lot that is I-95, repent!
I pointed my diminutive companions to the different moods of snow and
sky, the pitched tent of the sun, the bridegroom now coming forth from
his pavilion “like a strong man, runs its course with joy.” I am afraid
they will miss it, even one hue or slant of sun. Of course they won’t.
It will seep in by osmosis and live in dormant memory there, till
awakened by a whiff of air one January day in middle age when their own
kids tug at coats, breaking some kind of reverie. Right now it’s down
to serious business: Man your positions, secure the rope, get feet on
the steering crossbar, coax the most speed from the hill.
Sledding is the great democratizer. On the slopes no one knows your
name, IQ, or proficiency with Windows 98–and no one cares. And those
of us for whom the ski havens of the Rockies or even the Poconos are
out of reach are not denied the least sensation. How full can you fill
a cup, after all? Do the olfactory glands, the retina, the pores
distinguish between the expensive Aspen snow and the homegrown kind?
And come to think of it, have I not noticed in my own life only the
most tenuous correlation between money and enjoyment? The
serendipitous rapture of a sublime piece of music on the radio on a
drive to the market has betimes surpassed the concert hall.
There is snow because God cannot be contained in one season alone–or
one anything alone. He is a lion, a lamb, an eagle. He is shepherd and
door and vine. He is the warmth and the new life of spring, the rich
fruition of summer, the gentle warning of fall, and the promissory
slumber of winter. Even Oscar Wilde found the Christ child, at least
momentarily, in a snowy landscape, in his children’s book, The Selfish
Giant, and appended this commentary to the ogre’s transformation: “He
did not hate the Winter now, for he knew that it was merely the Spring
asleep.” And if snow was the antagonist in C.S. Lewis’s Narnia stories,
it is only because winter would not give way to spring.
This article originally appeared in World Magazine; Feb. 19, 2000. It can also be found in her book "Won’t Let You Go Unless You Bless Me", available on the book table.