For the past decade I have been praying for snow. This is not an exaggeration. I literally have. Perhaps to you, especially if you have ever lived in a northern climate, that may sound silly, even childish. That may very well be so. And I’m okay with that. The simple truth is that I am one of those people who really, REALLY loves snow. And living in South Georgia, it is a rare and noteworthy event around here when snow finally comes our way.
I can count on one hand my lifetime snow experiences. I do have pictures of my mom, my aunt, and me in front of a snowman when I was a toddler. I have no memory of this event, so it barely counts. In 1989, we had a terrific snow – on Christmas Day, nonetheless. The only thing was, I happened to have been extremely pregnant and no one would let me do anything fun. My primary role was videotaping my friends having spectacular adventures “sledding” down the road on a boat seat being towed behind an ancient Dodge truck. In 2010, we had a freak storm that blanketed our area in fluffy white. I, however, was at the beach with my husband at a marriage conference. There not one flake fell. By the time we got home the next day, there were maybe three or four handfuls left in the shadows of our pine trees. Gone, just that fast. Then this past year, my husband and I took an Alaskan cruise, where we gazed upon glaciers in the distance and witnessed a brief bit of snowfall during lunch at the top of a mountain. It was a wonderful experience, but that was me visiting someone else’s snow. It was not my snow.
And that was sort of the thing: Not that I would go find snow, but that snow would find me.
In recent years, friends who live farther north and who are aware of my snow obsession would send pictures and videos when their winter storms would dump down anywhere from a couple inches to several feet of snow. I lived vicariously through them. I must confess that I did indeed covet their lovely whiteness. And still, year after year, I prayed for some snow of my very own. Last year the winter in Georgia was more than warm; it was downright hot. I began to despair of EVER seeing real snow. Sometimes it felt like chewing the same flavorless stick of gum, but I never stopped praying.
When I first saw the weather forecast predicting the required combination of moisture and cold temperatures, I took notice but didn’t get my hopes up. We’ve been there many times before. Then the percentages for snow kept increasing. The news reported snow “in view” in our area. I could hardly contain myself when the first fluffy flakes began falling!
My To-Do list for the day was officially trashed – for the rest of the week. I had the luxury of being at home on this day, and was therefore able to savor each moment. I ran from window to window, taking quick videos of the progression as my yard became blanketed in stunning white. I spent several hours with my nose eagerly pressed to the glass, awaiting that just-right moment when the accumulation was at its peak. Then, and only then, would I go outside and truly experience it all. After taking about a thousand pictures (well, almost…), I set about crafting my long-long-awaited snowman. Not from someone else’s borrowed snow, but in my very own back yard.
One thing I learned right away is that making a snowman is not nearly as easy as it seems. Those Hollywood three stacked balls are quite difficult to get rounded properly then attached to each other without them falling apart. Building my snowman took the better part of an hour, with very careful attention to detail. After numerous failed attempts, we found that the best method was to begin with a fat snowball then keep adding, one handful at a time, carefully patting and shaping each one. Perhaps others with more advanced snowman-making skills could have done it faster and easier, but for me this was an experience ten years – TEN YEARS – in the making. There was no need to rush. This was a time to enjoy the journey. Slowly, each inch of his stature was lovingly sculpted by my hand. Flu or no flu, this was the moment I’d been waiting for. And it was so worth it! When done, he was about three feet tall, with a carrot nose, button eyes, and a red scarf. A snowman so eagerly anticipated dare not disappear in anonymity; he must be granted a name. I donned his straw hat and christened him Jasper, a true Southern snowman!
Throughout the course of the day – one of my favorite days ever – I thought about some lessons I might glean from a slightly lumpy, lopsided snowman.
1. God is Faithful
He hears the prayers of His children, even ones asking for snow. Now I will not under any circumstances pretend that snow is essential to life itself. I could have lived out the remainder of my days very well without it. The snow was a gift and I enjoyed it as such. As we delight in giving good gifts to our children simply because we love them and want to see them smile, so it is with our Heavenly Father. This snow fell onto a season of my life that needed some encouragement and a splash of frivolous joy, and it happened on a day when I was perfectly poised to both receive and fully appreciate it.
- Be patient – it is worth the wait
Waiting is hard, and as a general rule, I tend not to like doing it. But when something is worked towards or cherished over an extended period of time, it becomes highly valuable to us. I would be hard pressed to explain to you why snow matters to me so very much. All I can say is that somehow it represents something magical, something rare and precious. Had it started snowing three minutes after the very first time I prayed for snow, that would have been pretty doggone terrific. But it didn’t. Time after time after time, it didn’t. But then one day it did. All those days in between made the flakes more valuable to me. The waiting made something “nice” into something “exceptional.”
- Power of community
Each individual snowflake is unique, one-of-a-kind. That’s pretty cool (HA!). On its own, however, one Georgia snowflake probably is not going to last very long before it melts away into nothing. It takes the combined effort of all those tiny individuals to make a snowdrift, a snowball, a snowman. Much like us, they last longer and can create more when in community with others. A lot of little flakes working together can make something truly amazing.
- Even the ordinary looks beautiful when there’s snow
Right now my front yard is a symphony of dried grass. It’s not the most stunning view on earth. Then came that special combination of water, temperature, and wind. As the lawn was coated with millions of frozen flakes, that dead grass was transformed into a thing of beauty. I wandered all over the yard snapping pictures of things I never would have bothered to notice before – sticks and leaves and fallen trees. By adding a dusting of fluffy white powder, even the fence posts and ant hills became part of a wintery fairytale.
One of the things that really struck me was the abundance of God’s gift. This wasn’t simply a couple flakes that melted upon impact. We had three- to five-inch layers on everything – the cars, the roof, the patio, you name it. This was not some chintzy half-answer to a decade-long request. We still had large patches of snow five days afterwards, which is unheard of in these parts. This was a lavish reply. There was one moment when I was standing alone outside in the stillness and the silence, in awe as I reflected on the perfection of this day. I dare say He was even showing off a little. My heart could scarcely take in such beauty. On this treasured occasion, as my childlike dream was fulfilled, I could feel His pleasure. And I LOVE that about God! He goes all-out to shower His love upon us.
- Squeeze all the good out of it
Certainly in life there are more ordinary days than spectacular ones, so when the really super-dyna-whopping experiences come along, we need to make much of them. Savor them. Memorize the moments. File them away to refresh our spirits during the lean seasons which will inevitably come our way. One of the ways I did this was to keep a running update on Facebook about how Jasper was doing. I had waited most of my adult life to build this snowman so I wanted to enjoy him for as long as humanly possible. It was silly and fun, and I happen to be blessed with some amazing friends who came along side me during this slightly ridiculous exercise. While pointless from all practical purposes, it helped me prolong the joy. No regrets.
- Endings and Beginnings
Almost a week later, I came home from running errands and noticed that the large patches of snow had finally melted and that Jasper was leaning dangerously low. Thirty minutes later, I looked again and he had toppled over. Of course I knew this was coming, but it still made me a bit sad. As I wistfully gazed on my melting creation, a fluttering caught my eye. A pair of bluebirds lighted in the inexplicably green honeysuckle vine on the trellis over Jasper’s head. As the birds gathered twigs for their nest, Jasper melted away, surrendering himself to the water cycle. I couldn’t help but smile as one form of beauty gave way to the next.