Here in Illinois, we have had a weirdly wimpy winter. Many would disagree with me, but we have had WAY too little snow and entirely too few winter storms for my liking. I'm sorry...I know a lot of people around here hate winter, but to me, there is just something so cozy about knowing we couldn't get out even if we wanted to. I love snuggling up, wearing jammie pants all day, making cookies, and calling a snow day (even though, truth be told, we rarely have trouble making it to the kitchen table for school even in the worst of weather).
Call me crazy, but I just love watching the wind blow the snow around outside when my family is nice and warm inside.
However, in typical Illinois fashion, we got a really nice snow just about the time the snow-lovers had thrown in the towel...and right about the time the snow-haters had started to gloat. Last Sunday, on Grace's 15th birthday (which is another story entirely!) we were the recipients of just such a snowfall. We left the church after evening services to walk across the yard to Ye Olde Parsonage, and this is what it looked like:
Yeah...I know it's not a great picture, but you need to understand that I took it while juggling several small children, a couple boxes of leftover pizza, and a plate of birthday cake. It looked a little better in the morning when I stepped out onto the front porch in my socks and captured this:
Pretty, right? I actually have a whole blog post on my mental back-burner, simmering away with my thoughts from that walk across the snow to get home from church. That should be done cooking in a day or so--probably after I reveal the significance of that mysterious star-shaped object that lives in my bathroom cabinet!
But anyway...on Monday, I couldn't in good conscience ask the kids to do a full day of school when I knew that, sadly, this was probably going to be their last opportunity to play in the snow until next winter. So whenever they came inside to warm up, I would make them tackle a subject, then set them free again.
About lunchtime, I told Daniel to call our dog Josie into the garage to warm up while we had lunch. He called her and called her--and since she's a short-haired dog, I just knew that she would want to head into her warm igloo. When she didn't gallop right into the garage, I started to get a little concerned, but then I looked out the French doors onto the deck.
|Here's a shot from early in the day, while kids were still in their pj's.|
Up against the house, there was a 12-inch strip of the deck that wasn't snow-covered. Maybe it had already melted as the temperature crept up on Monday or perhaps it had been protected by the house and hadn't been covered with snow to begin with, but Josie had found a place to sit where she wasn't perched on snow, and that was good enough for her!
I stood at the window, and I watched her.
She was at attention. She could hear her Daniel calling for her--and she just loves her kids!
She knew that, inside the garage, it was warm and dry...there was food and water...
But between her and where she wanted to be, there was snow that had to be crossed.
I could almost hear the fight going on inside her:
- It's Daniel! Daniel! Let's go!
- My feet are cold! Let's stay put!
- The igloo! The food! The water! Daniel!
- Oh...it's not so bad here. Look...my feet are dry!
- Oh...I'm not hungry. Very.
- It's warm in there!
- Gee...I'm really OK here. It's not so bad...
And I looked at her, and I thought, Oh, baby...I know just how you feel!
How many times have I backed myself into a tiny little corner of...not real comfort...but of a reduced discomfort?
How well do I know that desire to be restored to true joy and safety and warmth...but I just can't stand the thought of the transient pain that is required to get there?
How often have I stood there, considering what that step onto the snow was going to cost me?
And how sad is it that a one-year old puppy should be the best teacher at our house that day?
To her credit, Josie finally stepped onto the snow and slush and galloped off to answer the call of her Daniel...but not before she reminded me that, no matter what I have done to snow myself into a spiritual corner, I am never going to be truly content if I'm perched anywhere outside the center of God's will for me.
And the more quickly I respond to His call, the sooner I'll find myself back in the only place where the merely acceptable is replaced by true joy.
And doggie biscuits.
“The son said to [his father],
‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.
I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick!
Bring the best robe and put it on him.
Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.
Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate.
For this son of mine was dead and is alive again;
he was lost and is found.’
So they began to celebrate.