the things the blizzard told me.

photo by Chris Molitor

The Blizzard of 2011 hits, and by Wednesday there is no driving anywhere without first an hour of shoveling.  Weary of being cooped up inside, I refuse to cancel a meeting with a friend.  Instead I gladly don my super-Croc snow-boots and fourteen layers of sweaters in order to brave a 7-block tromp.  The sun is shining gloriously, causing the fresh snow to shimmer like a million and a half diamonds. The frigid air is all of 3 degrees (F.), but I barely care so happy were my achy legs glad to be moving and my lungs elated to breathe something besides stale space-heater air.

As I embrace my walk through the neighborhood, I am mildly and pleasantly surprised by two observations:

1)  A shockingly amount of people are outside… either walking like me, or shoveling away.
2)  Everyone seems to be in unusually jovial moods… like, actually nice & neighborly.

I’m fairly certain I’m having more friendly interactions with the residents of my nearby streets in one short trek than I typically have in a snow-less month of Sundays.  I’ll be honest, I am scratching my head on this one.  Heaps of snow, no one can go anywhere, people are stuck…  and yet the animosity and tension I’ve grown so accustomed to experiencing here seems to have frozen somewhere deep under a foot of snow.

“Oh you’re swerving all over the road and almost hit me?  No big deal.  Normally I’d cuss you out, but today you’ll get a friendly wave and smile.  I might even offer to help push you out if you’re stuck…”  This is the city pulse I feel with every block I walk.

It occurs to me that for a glorious two days, every last soul in our fair city is forced to an equal playing field.  The Hyde Park mansion-owners, the Paseo apartment-renters, the bus-riders, the car-drivers, the white, the black, the Latinos.  The business men and the school children.  Absolutely everyone’s lives are hijacked simultaneously.  Meeting after meeting canceled, and instead of annoyance, even highly organized individuals seems almost giddy at the prospect of having to re-schedule.

Soon the snow will melt, and it will be business as usual.  But today, I will just revel in the bliss.

Upon returning home, I am enjoying the sunshine and the myriad of friendly waves and smiles entirely too much to return indoors, I take it upon myself to shovel our steps, the sidewalk, the bus stop outside our house, and to unbury my poor little car.  As I vigorously send the perfectly white powder flying everywhere, words from Scripture seem to echo around me.

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” *

I see Mercy.
It’s falling from heaven like flawless icy masterpieces.
It’s falling everywhere- on the just and the unjust alike.
It’s covering everything – the pretty, restored homes and the neglected, vacant ones.
It covers the trashy streets and the green yards.  It covers me, it covers you.

For a minute, this snow storm covers the ugliness of racism.  It whites out hideousness of injustice.  It smoothes over the animosity.  For a minute, I see the promise of a Day To Come.  A  Great and Glory-filled Day when Peace Himself appears to set all things right.  When the Love Man comes to claim an earth that was given to Him long ago.

Our sins are like scarlet.
All the wrongness in all our relating sticks out like a sore thumb.
Even our best shots at right-relating look like the torn-up castaway T-shirts we’ve used to wash a dirty car.**  The only Hope we have in a million, billion years is that Mercy falling from heaven like flawless icy masterpieces.

Oh Jesus, cover us like this foot of snow has covered the city.  In a single day our entire city has been wholly immersed in a pure white blanket.  In a single day You Yourself immersed all of mankind in unspeakable kindness, each drop of Your blood falling like its own flawless masterpiece.  Oh Jesus, cover us.  We long for the day when You restore innocence to our city as a Perfectly Right-Relating Ruler Forever and Ever.

{*Isaiah 1:18, **Isaiah 64:6}

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