Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Grace of a Good Snow Day

A nor'easter storm has slowed our region to a crawl. It's the first real storm of winter, and couldn't have come at a better time. On a snow day, you stick to what's necessary and help out your neighbors. Everything else is left to grace.

So far we've run the snowblower three times. In our home, my wife and I race to see who could get outside first to use it. This is further evidence that I married the right person. When she returns from the latest pass, I'll make omelettes and home fries. Why give our money to an overpriced restaurant on Valentine's Day when we can enjoy a meal at home?

Today will offer an opportunity to finish a good book and sink into another. Sometimes the "church work" precludes the deeper work of thinking and praying, which is what I often do as I read a book. I don't read as quickly as I once did; but I try to read more deeply.

And some time this afternoon, we'll watch the quintessential snow day film, "Nobody's Fool." The 1994 feature has been a continuing favorite. This was Jessica Tandy's last film, and features Paul Newman as a cranky loner who rediscovers his son.

For those who haven't seen it, it's a slow moving film. The ensemble cast gives a great depiction of small town life. There are plenty of well-seasoned characters who rely on one another. Living in subsistence circumstances in upstate New York, they gather at the local bar to bet on Judge Wapner's verdicts, contend with one another's estranged relationships, and live with a realistic assessment of one another's strengths and weaknesses. I love the truthfulness of the film.

The townspeople in the movie form a curious parish. I'm reminded that the wise pastor is the one who gets to know folks over a long time. You learn the nuances of their relationships and the depths of their personalities. You observe the ways that they fail and succeed. And when true change and growth occur in their lives, you can discern it as a blessed sign of God's activity.

This knowledge doesn't accumulate quickly. It runs counter to the impulse to use other people. It resists the desire to consume them for purposes of our own. It aspires to be deeply accepting, and intuitive of what divine forces are at work in regular lives.

Observing God's activity is always slow work, and those who leap to conclusions about it are usually wrong.

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