Saturday, February 6, 2010

An Epic Snow Storm and the Meaning of Leisure

A gentle snow started falling yesterday afternoon. The schools closed, the government closed early and by 5pm last evening there was barely a dusting. I thought for sure that the predictions were over-blown. We were probably only going to get a few inches.

Well, I couldn't have been "more wronger," one of my favorite Veggie Tales lines. Northern Virginia was pummeled through the night and all day today by a continuous snow fall that has amounted to more than 28". It is going to snow until 7pm tonight with 2" accumulation per hour predicted. We should have at least 3 ft. of snow when all is said and done.

On a brighter note, the kids had a wonderful time playing and helping to clear the walkways and driveways. Tunnels through the snow have been forged, snow villages have been created, and more hot cocoa than is probably advisable has been distributed from my kitchen to any child who placed a request. In all, the work and aggravation that this snow may cause is offset pleasantly by laughter and fun, by a sense of surrender to the reality of what is.

And, isn't that what God may be providing today? Isn't this the perfect opportunity to reconnect with God and with our neighbor? This is a moment of leisure, and I use this term in its purest sense, which is not an absence of termoil or activity, but "a form of stillness that is necessary preparation for accepting reality; only the person who is still can hear, and whoever is not still cannot hear...[l]eisure is the disposition of receptive understanding, of contemplative beholding, and immersion -- in the real." (Leisure The Basis of Culture, J. Pieper, 31.) Leisure is interior, a "condition of the soul." And, while the snow may fall and fall in abundance, the ability to wonder at it, accept the reality of its vastness and handle it with a disposition that marvels at the creative power of God, will allow you a proper sense of leisure; a peaceful state of soul that leaves one refreshed and renewed.

Jesus told his disciples, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid." (Jn 14:27) He did not promise this peace without the struggles of life. In fact, He prepares us for the fact that the struggle must be met because the "ruler of the world is coming". (Cf. Jn 14:30) The world's conception of peace is the antithesis of the interior peace of which Jesus speaks. He offers that His peace, even through the troubles that will be found in the world, like a massive snow storm that will paralyze and entire regions, should never be a source of fear because His peace is with us.

Be at leisure, trusting in all that the Lord promises -- His mercy and His peace. So, go shovel your driveway, play in the snow, and help your neighbor do the same. But, remember to venture out into this blizzard, or into any work that you may do, with the spirit of peace -- with leisure in mind.

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