Winter is pretty detestable to me, albeit picturesque at times, and each cold season seems longer to me than the last. Yet, winter has a way of reminding me how utterly at the mercy of the elements we all are…and bringing home the value of taking time to do nothing.
For example, last Wednesday was shaping up to be a busy one. We had a regular day of errands, Todd was working as usual, and we were to convene at home for a quick, earlier-than-usual dinner and then rush out the door to a variety of church events beginning at 6. Wet snow was spitting on the little guy and me as we groceried and made other quick stops; after we’d gotten back home, I had begun preparing the meal when I noticed it was snowing more purposefully. Lots of snow. And the snow was beginning to pile up.
I checked the news, saw various watches and warnings flashing across the screen, was overwhelmed with cancellations and doomsday predictions of bad roads and colder temps. Then I checked email, and there was a note from a church person: Everything is cancelled for tonight. Everything. Kid stuff, singing stuff, teenager stuff—all kaput. I confirmed this with the department where I’d been planning to participate that evening, found out the alternate practice time that had been scheduled, and scribbled it on the calendar. Just that quickly, we were in for the night.
Where there’d been busy-ness, there was suddenly free time. In a block of hours that had been completely accounted for, there was now the promise of relaxation, an early bed, coziness instead of mad dashing from car to building to car again. No plan, no agenda—instead, we were given a newly discovered time to breathe and be thankful.
Why does it take a snowstorm to ground us in the values of simplicity? None of the things we do here at our house are inherently bad things; they’re innocent and worthwhile activities. There’s nothing wrong with singing in a choir or attending kids club or playing hoops with some middle schoolers. Still, all those worthwhile pastimes can overtake you if you let them. Suddenly, you’re not being civil to each other, and you’re living in chaos and gulping your meals and tripping over clutter and dirty dishes and forgetting to feed the cat. It just happens, because those are all effects of the cause of over-busyness.
On that snowy, un-busy night, calm was reclaimed. We drank tea, and watched the fluffy whiteness envelop our home, the street, the cars parked resignedly there. No one was going anywhere. And in truth, no one really minded.