We are in the middle of yet another snow storm. I remember when I was a little girl how excited I got to see some snow. It meant snow days from school and building snowmen in the yard. As a teacher, I was just as excited to see the county name flash across the tv screen. It meant a chance to sleep in and a lazy day at home. For a public school teacher, those were a couple of precious gifts.
Now, I am in New England spending my fifth winter in a blanket of white. It’s not as exciting as it used to be. We are working on a “Shaq-high” level of snow this January. My landlord and I have had more conversations with shovels in our hands than we’ve ever had before. I have mixed feelings about snow now. We are up to our necks in packed snow and more is on the way. There’s no room left for what is to come and people are starting to get frustrated, depressed, and just plain tired…at least I am. There’s also no room left on the streets for cars, walkers and even the sidewalks.
Two things happened on Tuesday that brought the opposite of emotions and thoughts for me. The morning when I cleaned off the car, I just stood there in the snow as it came down over me. I was still and it was peaceful. It was one of the most beautiful sounds I’ve heard in a while. I could actually hear the snow falling, like the whisper of a baby sleeping gently in her crib. For a moment, I was blessed with the presence of snow. I didn’t want to leave that feeling. I didn’t want to leave that protection.
That afternoon, I got home from work and had to shovel the sidewalk. In the back of my mind, I knew it wouldn’t be the last time that I would be doing that this week. We were in the eye of the snow storm, One storm was gone and another one was on the way. We are out of room and my landlord is leaving tomorrow for the next five days. I will literally be over my head with snow if this keeps up. News reports talk about the danger of all this snow on the rooftops of businesses and homes. Roofs are caving. Two people were trapped after last week’s storm when their roof caved in. The stress of the snow is breaking things down. The still small voice of peace was gone.
The thoughts that were flying around like snowflakes dealt with the fact that I have been shoveling layer upon layer of snow. We all have. So much of it fell in such a short amount of time that we can’t see the ground anymore and won’t see it for a very long time. So much has fallen that those roofs are caving in and people are getting hurt. That’s what happens when you don’t have enough support and resources to help you battle the snow. You feel like you are all alone and the snow just keeps building up and the roof is going to cave. People are edgy, tired, frustrated and just about done. No matter how much we have been shoveling, it seems like there is no end in sight. Where is the excitement I felt as a little girl? As a teacher? Where is that still small voice of the whisper of snow?
I’ve been off my blog for a while and some folks wondered if things were ok. I appreciate the concern. Things are ok, just a bit challenging right now. I wasn’t sure how to communicate those challenges with the faith I normally have. Life gives the opportuntiy for our faith to be challenged. Since coming back from Christmas vacation, I’ve been watching the irony of the snow days parallel with the irony of life. For those who’ve been wondering what’s going on, I am now able to share some information with you that became official on Sunday. Due to budget concerns and the necessity to put their resources in areas where the need is most, the church where I serve made the difficult decision to eliminate my full-time position. I imagine you can call this being laid off. It feels like it. I’ve been there before and I wonder if I learned anything from the past.
The idea of searching for a new call is bittersweet at best. The congregation knows I am searching and yet I still serve them in the best way I am humanly able given the circumstances. Each day that I face the youth and children, I know I have to say goodbye. How do you say bye to those precious faces and spirited hearts? I promised them that I wouldn’t neglect them and I know I won’t. Selfishly, they are the ones holding me together and reminding me of the passion and heart I have for them. I will do my best for you.
At the same time, I have to do what’s best for me and take the time needed to prepare for my future. My first full-time call is coming to an end. The knowledge that I gained from this opportunity has been a tremendous gift. My strengths and passion have developed over the 5 years and I am grateful for each moment of improvement. There has also been a spotlight placed on my weaknesses and I continue to work through them. I continue to be challenged with personalities, cultures, thick skins, and certain behaviors. I am also reminded of the spirit and love that picked me up every time I fell. What I experienced has made me stronger, better, and more prepared for what lies ahead. I just need to prepare my very best for what that next call is.
Understandably, there is a fear of uncertainty within the snow of my thoughts too. When I was laid off before, I was without a job for almost a year. My faith and foundation were challenged to the core. But that was the corporate world. This is a church. Is it any different? It feels different. I am 10 years older and in a different profession. I am 600 miles away from family and friends, so I’m on my own. It’s a different relationship, a different level, a different understanding that I am not sure how to explain. I went back to school, to seminary in order to answer God’s call and become a minister. Of course in my head, the second guessing comes into play, “Did I do all that I could? Did I make an impact? Did I hear the calling right? Did I miss something? Was I wrong in answering this call?”
What about my faith and trust? Are they stronger now because of what I’ve been through before? Can they withstand the snow that has been building up for a while? How long will it take to melt? How long will it take for one person to shovel it away? How long will it take for the sun to shine again? It is shining and I know that. I just need to keep focus, allow the light of Christ to shine from within me and allow the peace that I felt in the morning snow, be with me as I face the days ahead.