One of the supposed benefits of 2020 is the explosion of technological means by which to educate. Zoom, Adobe Connect, Google Classroom, etc. are heralded as the solution to all things “stay at home.” This includes snow days. Indeed, since I am still on the notification list at Concordia Seminary, every time there is inclement weather in the Holy City I get automated phone calls and emails explaining if and when campus will be closed. Yesterday, this announcement proceeded with the notice that, even though campus is closed, classes will still be held online. That’s a good thing for seminary, college, and any pedagogy that really can lecture without being physically present. It’s a whole other story for my church’s little grade school, where (as we learned the hard way) online learning is a contradiction in terms.
So we still have snow days.
Setting aside my annoyance that we already had a day off this week for President’s Day (why? no clue), the surprised elation that comes from my own children waking up to a fresh layer of powder that had fallen determinedly in the night is as refreshing as watching my dog leap joyfully from one snow drift to the next. Snow day. Awesome.
Somewhere in his book Seculosity: How Career, Parenting, Technology, Food, Politics, and Romance Became Our New Religion and What to Do About It, David Zahl muses briefly about snow days. If work and business have become gods, snow days get in the way of our false worship. But the snow doesn’t care. It just wants to lie there, and it beckons you to do the same. Taking a snow day in some ways is like smashing an idol, and the delightful treat of an extra Sabbath is often just what the doctor ordered.
There’s a reason Isaiah uses snow as a metaphor for righteousness: Though your sins be like scarlet, they shall be white as snow. Snow covers everything in a fresh blanket of purity. Jesus covers everything in a deluge of righteousness. Whatever is already on the ground is hidden and unimportant by the snow. Whatever is muddying up your life is invisible with Christ’s righteousness that covers all your sin. Smash the idol and believe in his grace.
Yes, I realize the irony of writing this on a snow day, of working in my office with a tie on that no one will see while others play and the snow plow beep-beep-beeps out the frosty window. I do see the hypocrisy in telling everyone to take a break while my keyboard clatters onward. Maybe I am a living extension of the metaphor: I don’t want to take a break. I don’t want to lie there like the snow. I don’t want to see that the righteousness of Jesus actually does cover all my sin. I want to go about my life acting like all the mud, blood, and messiness is just a part of the landscape. I like my idols.
The snow still doesn’t care. It just falls.