Friday, January 14, 2011

Snow Day

Like so many in New England this week, we got slammed with a lot of snow on Wednesday: more than I've ever witnessed in my lifetime as a New England resident (last I heard it was somewhere around two feet, in our town). On Wednesday evening as twilight was coming on, I took the kids out in it for a few minutes, knowing full well they were going to have trouble managing.

Anna almost immediately got stuck. Ethan, meanwhile, could barely move at all. The drifts were up to his waist and beyond. We slogged our way over to the swingset. Everything was surreal: the snow mounded up and almost covering the play house; thick evergreen branches bowed to the ground, nearly breaking under the weight of it; the drifts up and almost over our downstairs windows.

I decided it would be fun to fall backwards into the snow. "Watch this!" I yelled to Ethan, and even as I fell backward, I could feel my knees buckling, my hands going back to break the fall. Again I tried, and again I instinctively tried to catch myself. You have 20-something inches of snow on the ground, I told myself. Why are you still afraid of falling back and hurting yourself?

The third time, I knew I had to do it. I took a deep breath and felt the complete, stomach-dropping thrill of falling backward fast, not seeing what was behind or knowing when I was going to hit the ground (or in my case mound, the snow mound). Then -- whump! -- I plunged into the pile of fluffy stuff. Ethan started laughing hysterically. I started laughing, too. Snow had wrapped itself around the sides of my face. My jeans were absolutely soaked. I needed to do it again.

And so as darkness fell and my body began to take on that strange warm glow that comes from actually being too cold, I let myself fall with complete abandon several more times.

Something happens, I think, whena we open up our arms and let go; when we relinquish control. A different kind of joy sets in. It's not the kind of joy you can get standing behind the windows in the safety of home, warm and dry. It's a snow-in-the-mouth-as-you're-laughing-at-the-bottom-of-a-deliciously-soft-but-freezing-snowpile kind of joy.

When I was a kid growing up in Central Mass., we'd be out the snow for hours. We lived on a dead end street that ended with steep paths leading up to a ball field. Winter was like a dream -- the plows would push huge snow piles to the end of the street and we'd walk up the two paths with our sleds and race down, flying over the snow piles and into my grandmother's driveway.

My grandmother would stand at her picture window in the living room, watching us slide with a half-smile and forehead creased with worry, arms folded. Meanwhile, we kids flew. We let the snow soak us. We forgot time.

Somehow most of us grow and end up behind the glass. I wonder why exactly that happens, but snow days remind me to venture onto the other side more often. That's really what this blog is all about, what I feel my life's story has been, these past few years. I'm unclenching those fists and falling backwards without turning to try to see what's behind me. God is not safe, but He's good.

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