I’m writing this from Nashville, TN, which is currently under a Level 3 State of Emergency due to Winter Storm Jonas. Mayor Barry opened emergency and overflow shelters four days ago in anticipation of the storm. Residents cleaned out the grocery stores and stocked up on firewood. Power is out is patches all over the city.
This kind of weather is disastrous for those who depend on every single day of work to pay their bills every month, and that for some kids, school is often the only place where they find reliable warmth and food. I’ve spent lots of time the last few days in discussions with congregational leadership and my supervisors over whether we could open this Sunday morning (we couldn’t). As part of the interdependent web of which I am a part, I know people are suffering in various ways.
All of that is relevant to my outward self, to my work as a minister in my congregation and in my community. My inner self, however, that sustains my outward self, is having a great time.
We woke up Friday morning to a landscape covered in perfect, powdery snow. It fell all day long, creating that particular precious kind of quiet that only nature can make as the flakes dampen the movement of sound waves through the atmosphere. My young children, who have only lived in Los Angeles until last August, are learning a whole new way of interacting with the world, seesawing between joyous playtime and sudden shock when their brains register their wet, frozen limbs.
And while I have always known I loved the snow and the cold, I’ve discovered this weekend that after nearly twenty years in southern California, I have been missing, at a deep, primal level, this connection with the snow and the cold. All my ancestors are European, from Scots to English to Vikings and beyond, and it shows in my complexion and my enormous bones. A couple of weeks ago I even had a congregant tells me that she can imagine me as some kind of Norse goddess.
Hours of meditation and prayer on my part paled in comparison to the effect of mindful walking in the snow, feeling it crunch under my feet with that distinctive sound. I stare at how it sparkles, in sunlight, and moonlight, and how it reflects the man-made light so powerfully that one can walk around in the winter night as if it’s barely sunset, despite it actually being hours later.
All this is to say that in the last couple of days, I have reconnected with that part of me that I had forgotten, or perhaps didn’t even know existed when I moved to the searing desert as a young girl. I can feel the memories of thousands of years in these bones, genetic memories rising up into my consciousness and feeding me for the long, hard work that is still to come to create justice in our communities, a part of which is making sure that weather like this doesn’t cause harm and suffering like it does today.
What are the seasons like where you live? How do they call to you?