I've been incredibly curious all week about what people are doing with all the time they suddenly have due to a week of snow days.
When the snow days first began, I was remembering the delightful tradition of "Reading Week" at my college. We always had a week between the last class of the semester and the beginning of finals to catch up on all of the reading you hadn't had time to do during the semester. A couple of snow days can serve the same purpose--a chance to catch up on housework, clear out our email and call elderly family members. I've been wondering of the Post will write a story on how many people filed their taxes this week (we did!) and how many people cleaned out at least one closet (we did!). How many people cleaned their oven?
The only news I've heard about snow day activities, however, was a segment on the Kojo Nnamdi Show with the buyers for supermarkets. People were calling in to answer the question, "What do you stock up on before a big storm?" The buyers talked about the run on frozen pizza and chips, but almost all the callers talked about getting food for soup, stew, brownies and other things to cook at home.
The evening after I heard that segment, I look out my front window and saw the glowing windows of houses up and down my block. I had the image of families, behind each of those windows, sitting down to dinner together. I imagined big pots of chicken soup and homemade banana bread. And since no one had anywhere to go that evening, I imagined everyone lingering at the table for a while, having a second glass of wine, telling stories, laughing together.
And all week, hundreds of thousands of people slept in. We hung out in bed for a while after waking up. We took afternoon naps.
At least in our house, the more snow days we had, the less closet cleaning we did. Things started to get really basic: sleeping, eating, shoveling, lying in the bathtub, eating some more, laughing.
I know that it's unnecessary to turn every single experience into a sermon, but it does strike me that the simplicity of snow days offers an important lesson about our calls.
David Spangler, in his near-perfect book "The Call", tells a story from his time as the codirector of Findhorn, a spiritual community in Northern Scotland in the early '70's. Findhorn was formed, in part, in response to an expectation that massive social and spiritual upheaval was going to lead to the birth of a New Age. Spangler writes that one day he received a letter informing them that the world was about to end with nuclear war, earthquakes, the melting of the polar ice caps, etc.
What to do with this prophecy, they wondered? The Findhorn community decided that even in the New Age, they would still need to cook and eat. They would still have to nurture their relationships with each other, raise children, care for the earth.
He concludes, "So many people in those days were caught up in thinking, 'What are the alternatives? What could be different about our world?' But I think the important question is, 'What would be the same?' Because if we start with what is the same, we can go from there; we can focus upon how we do what is already at hand for us to do. The differences will emerge as they need to. What is that same is that I still need to learn how to be loving to you."
The call to love, to be loving towards each other, the earth and ourselves, is really our only call, Spangler argues. All our particular activities are just particular ways to live out that call.
I hope that this past week, with all our time at the table with each other and all our time in bed with each other, we were able to live into that most basic call a bit more fully.