“Thank you so much!” I couldn’t help myself as I looked out the window. I heard my husband lamenting the three to five inches of snow that this morning’s weather-cast promised as I offered my prayer of gratitude. “We’re under a snow advisory. I’ll probably have to do the driveway twice.” As the poor man continued to list the trials that would certainly accompany this snowfall, I continued to enjoy the beautiful flakes dancing outside my window. “Thank you, Dear God,” I whispered again.
The past few weeks have been very busy for good and not-so-good reasons. As a result, this Monday’s “To Do” list is much longer than usual. Most of our parish bulletin is unfinished and this article, as you can see, is only into its second paragraph. Still, I can’t keep my eyes from turning away from my writing to the window. Of all the amazing beauty that nature offers, I love the snow most. As a little girl, my favorite art project involved making snowflakes. I remember my teacher showing us how to fold and cut scraps of white paper to fashion beautiful snow designs. She reminded us not to worry about the patterns we made because each of our paper creations would be different, just like real snowflakes. In the end, we covered our classroom windows with hundreds of our amazingly different paper flakes. Years later, a high school science teacher brought me back to this art project when she confirmed that every snowflake is different. During my college commute, I waited for trains many a wintry day. To amuse myself, I studied the snowflakes that rested on my blue pea coat, always fascinated by the intricate artistry of each one.
I confess that I stopped mid-page to ask, “Why all of this snow talk?” Before continuing, I returned to the window for another look. Did you know that some snowflakes seem to fall in straight lines to the ground, while others just a few inches away slant to the right or the left? Still others puff up into billowy clouds before making their descent. Some snowflakes zigzag to and fro, regardless of the presence or absence of the wind. When the wind makes itself known, these seemingly hapless comings and goings continue more frenetically than ever. As I tell myself that it is I who should be moving frenetically because of all I have to do, my spirit basks in the beauty of the snowfall before me.
You and I are not very difference from the snowflakes that bring me such peace today. Each of us is unique in his or her own right. In spite of our opinions or those of others, our personal packaging and personalities, interests and talents are among God’s best work. Some of us travel in straight lines, while others zigzag with a bit of uncertainty or simply because they choose to. Still others find themselves suspended in the clouds before making their way home. Some travel only to the right or to the left. All of us adjust our courses with the wind –God’s Holy Spirit who guides and inspires us. In the end, like snowflakes, we form a beautiful blanket that transforms this earth.
In today’s Gospel, Matthew (4:12-23) tells us that Jesus has just received news of his cousin John the Baptist’s death. Though heartbroken over this loss, Jesus follows God’s Spirit and goes on to begin his work among us. Convinced of our importance to one another, Jesus begins his ministry by calling others to his side. Peter and Andrew, James and John cannot imagine where this journey will take them, yet they become the first members of the faith community that will follow Jesus. Like the snowflakes that tossed and turned in the wind outside of my window, the disciples’ lives turned topsy-turvy during the three years that followed. At times, they chose to go it alone, Most of the time, they allowed God’s Spirit to lead them. In the end, they transformed the world even more beautifully than the blanket of snow that surrounds us today.
Jesus invites you and me to answer God’s call and to open ourselves up to God’ Spirit as well. Though our journeys will likely not be as adventurous as those of the first disciples, our impact upon this world can be equally dramatic. Whether we veer to the left or right, zigzag or land in a cloud, when we move with God’s Spirit, we accomplish what we are called to do and we end precisely where we are meant to be.
©2011 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved