Sunday was a needed break in the middle of a battle with snow. I suppose I could have taken care of the drifting that Saturday’s nasty wind blew into our Farm-childcare’s parking lot, but chose to procrastinate, justifying my procrastination by telling myself I’d have to snow-blow fresh snow first thing Monday morning anyway, and I might as well kill two birds with one stone. (I was sorry I made this choice, first thing Monday morning, when an employee drove her car into into one of these starchy, shallow drifts, hidden under the new fluff, and her all-wheel-drive car got stuck like a dart in a cork dartboard, making extra work for me, but I didn’t know this yet.)
I wish I could say I was honoring my Maker by obeying the commandment about keeping the Sabbath holy, but the truth is I was loafing, and even if the rest was needed and healing, it seems uppity to adopt a holier-than-thou attitude about loafing.
Not that I didn’t justify loafing as a boy, about playing hooky. In a very real way fishing was more like worship, and had more to do with appreciating God’s beauty and joy, than Algebra class, but the authorities didn’t want to hear my logic, (though they used the same logic when they chose playing golf over church). The only person who bothered listen to my logic was my best buddy (who is partly encapsulated in the character “Durf” in the novel I’m working on), and he was only agreeable because he was playing hooky with me, and was in just as much trouble as I was.
I’ll get in trouble for saying this, but I don’t think Sunday, as a Day of Rest, should be like a spoonful of cod-liver oil. It shouldn’t be like discipline; it should be like goofing off. We get quite enough of discipline, when reality involves snowstorm after snowstorm after snowstorm, and what we need is a bit of time to think about the Creator, rather than the Creation.
That is the whole idea behind going to church on Sunday. It is a time you get to goof off a little. It doesn’t matter if you are obeying Hebrew discipline or Christian discipline or Islamic discipline, the point of the law is to put the Creator ahead of the Creation, or, in other words, to goof off.
Muslims have the good sense to goof off seven times a day. However they encumber this good sense with prayer mats they have to roll out. I myself need no such rigmarole, and often pray more often than seven times, and, back before I was self employed, my employers never thanked me for it. Instead, when I paused midst the assembly line, and gazed out the window at clouds, and contemplate the majesty, the glory, and the poetry of of the One who created such clouds, I tended to get fired, Why? I suppose it was because because the assembly line ground to a halt as a big pile of product heaped up in front of me. In the same manner, if I lived in an Islamic culture, I’d be in trouble because I’d forget to roll out my prayer mat in the proper way at the proper time.
I am miles off my point, but there is a fascinating part of Christian scripture where Saint Paul discusses this perplexing spiritual ambiguity. (Romans, chapter 15.) In a nutshell, he hints that those who obey rules are “weak”, when they eat the right foods and pray at the right times on the right days, while the “strong” don’t need rules and regulations, and rather are free. (Hippies often quoted this chapter, when they wanted to justify unwise behavior.)
To return to the subject, Sunday was a wonderful break in our war with snow. The cruel wind died down, as temperatures recovered from a low of -4.0° to a high of 21.2° (-20° to -6° Celsius). The sun was bright in a sky dotted with friendly cumulus. The last thing I wanted, with my body aching, was any sort of extra work. I wanted to loaf. The last thing I needed was all the work and discipline involved with “Superbowl Sunday”.
Memo to people in the future: “Superbowl Sunday” was this weird discipline inflicted upon a secular society, where everyone had to work like mad filling dishes with delicious snacks, and then huddle around a TV set, often with a huge screen, and watch full grown men run about chasing a silly ball, or the man who held the silly ball.
As usual, I loafed. My wife had to cover for me, because I didn’t prepare a single dish, (unless you include food for my chickens, rabbit and goats). Instead I sat about and blabbed with an old preacher, who had a wonderfully refreshing attitude about the failures of religion.
Twenty-five years ago our church began to grow, and achieved a congregation of over 200 before problems arose, and the congregation crashed to 125. To deal with the problems we asked an expert to come, and it was this fellow, back when he was younger. He had taken all sorts of classes in divinity school, and also all sorts of classes in crisis management, problem-solving, psychology, and peace-making. He stabilized the crisis.
After he departed the crash resumed, until we are now an echoing church with a congregation of 40. We had to reduce the number of committees, because we were in danger of having more committees than members. So desperate was the situation that I not only was asked to be a member of the Deaconate, but, (due to the cruelty of a coin-flip), am now the “Chairman of the Deaconate”, which was not a fate my mother ever dreamed could befall the likes of me.
We can no longer afford a pastor, but can afford guest-speakers, and invited this fellow back. He is reluctantly joining the ranks of the elderly, because is mind is vibrantly young. One of the first things he told us, as a guest speaker, was that all he learned about crisis management, problem-solving, psychology, and peace-making was helpful, but not what really mattered. It was an accessory to what mattered. What mattered was what mattered to the Creator.
Hmm. Interesting. Talking to this fellow seemed more like fun than the Superbowl. So we had lunch together after church with our wives. It was wonderful, and a bit like playing hooky with my boyhood’s best friend (who I partly encapsulate and call “Durf” in the novel I’m working on). It was a lunch free of discipline, and relaxed, as loafing should be. Even after I’d payed the tab and tip, and more disciplined people would politely leave the table, we continued loafing for a half hour. However all good things must end, and we had to leave to go watch the Superbowl.
The Superbowl was amazing, for there was no loafing. It involved superbly disciplined people, running about chasing a silly ball. It was the best game I’ve ever seen, and in the end involved such an equipoise that the extra effort of a single individual changed the entirety. The athletes of both teams deserve congratulations and gratitude.
It was odd, afterwards, to hear the amazing focus made from who “won”. The winning team’s quarterback wasn’t even on the field when the hero stepped from obscurity to make the game-winning play, but the fact the quarterback was now a “winner” made a giant difference in how he would been seen, and remembered.
Absurd. But that is the way of the world. The focus is too much on Creation, and not enough on the Creator. All these amazing athletes demonstrate the results of amazing discipline, and all anyone cares about is some gaudy trophy. If the arthlete gets no trophy, and is a “loser”, all that was beautiful is forgotten, except by people like me.
Not that I don’t suffer when a “loser” and don’t gloat when a “winner”, but some part of me is awakening, and sees that sort of stuff doesn’t matter. What matters is how you play the game, as you face snowstorm after snowstorm after snowstorm.
The gloating parade for the winners had to be cancelled, in Boston, today, as the next storm hit. Up here in the hills of southern New Hampshire it was time to get back to work, and keep my Farm-childcare open, even as the local schools were cancelled.
I had to snow-blow all the entrances and exits and lots twice, both in the morning as people arrived to drop off children and in the evening as they picked their children up. It was a long time of plodding, but I didn’t forget to look around and see how amazingly beautiful a snowbound world is, and make a church out of work.
It was cold, a single-digit day, as the high temperature was only 9.7° (-12.4 Celsius).
The storm was unusual, as it didn’t dip south and then come back north, but rolled east to west in a way that gave ten inches to both Chicago and parts of New York City. Usually one gets the snow and the other doesn’t, but this storm gave snow to both.
Another interesting thing is that the computer models didn’t see this storm as giving us a foot of snow, nor do I, when I look at last Sunday morning’s map.
However the storm is obvious on the current map.
The thing of it is, in the above map the next storm is also not obvious. The computer models again think we will just get a dusting. I have a feeling we will get more.
The snow has been light and fluffy, and not that hard to remove, but drifts are getting pretty big in places, and another storm would make it hard, because we are running out of places to put the snow, as we remove it.
Future posts could get interesting, if winter becomes severe. Hopefully I’ll remember it isn’t whether you win or lose. It is how you play the game.