I Believe in Snow Shovels

Today I shoveled the neighbors’ driveway. Not because they’re disabled (they’re not), or because I’m especially good or kind (I’m average kind), but because I believe in snow shovels. Every time I hear the roar of a snowblower or smell the gasoline drifting across the still earth, the irony makes me cringe. Our fossil-fuel solutions to a snowy inconvenience is, after all, only going to contribute to a more extreme snow next time around. Solving climate with climate change makes no sense to me.

There are several families in our congregation who refuse to buy snowblowers. The reasoning is that this is the simple life—like our theological cousins, the Amish, the question these families have asked themselves is, “Will this new technology help or hurt our relationships with each other and with God?” Snowblowers don’t build relationships, as thoughtful as it is when the neighbors blow my sidewalk. In fact, the noise and the speed of the clunky thing rarely gives me even less opportunity to thank them. On some winter mornings, I’ve seen a half dozen neighbors out, each with their own snowblower, never speaking to each other. What an embodiment of excess and private ownership, for each of us to own our own machine to clear our own 10 feet of sidewalk! Continue reading

The Small Mercies of Winter

When people come into the office complaining about how terrible the weather is, I’m always tempted to say “Why do you complain about the weather? You can’t by your own will make one hair on your head turn white or black.” It is, in its own way, a pastoral response. But technicalities and modern dyes aside, I hate complaints about the weather. Sorry God didn’t acquiesce to your wishes with this sunrise; what are you going to do, let it ruin your day? I am unsympathetic. I love seasons.

The turning of seasons always makes me a little nostalgic (self-righteous?), and as the days get longer (if not warmer), I don’t mind the longness of winter. It’s been such a flurry of snow and chaos and social activity–from Christmas into the New Year into MLK and Superbowl season, births and funerals and the daily activities around them. There is always so much to do! Sometimes, pastoring requires you to be a professional socialite, flitting from gatherings to fundraisers to dinners. There is always someone to catch up with.

As a millennial who has mastered the art of million-tasking, I love winter for the ability to do one thing at a time. To practice every day the art of looking out of windows at the weather. Continue reading