The Lord of the Snow still has the upper hand!
Andy Bryant points out that the current wintry weather serves as a reminder that we should respect God’s creation.
Early Wednesday morning in Norwich and the world was beautifully transformed. A thick carpet of snow had reshaped the world. Everything looked different and the light reflected from the snow brought a new perspective to familiar landmarks. Rightly at our Morning Prayers in the Cathedral did we offer praise to the Lord of the Snow.
There is something exciting about the first fall of fresh snow. Children (and adults!) long to be outside and to play in this wonderful winter wonderland. For a while wet gloves, cold noses and snow-clogged boots are forgotten amidst the fun, but soon the call of the warm, dry indoors cannot be ignored.
The once beautiful virgin snow is now a mass of footprints and the odd snow people, and paths start to become slippery. Vehicles are churning up the roads, cars start to be abandoned and in the wind the snow starts to drift. After the initial excitement a different reality sets in. It is fun to be off school but what about child care? Taking one snow day from work is a treat but key appointments start to be missed and we worry about the back-log of work we will face on our return.
And quickly we become conscious of isolated and vulnerable individuals for whom the snow starts to make their lives a prison, cut off from the daily support so essential to their lives.
It is surprising too how quickly the supermarkets start to run out of items, especially fresh produce. All their smart delivery systems suddenly come unstuck as supply chains come unstuck in the snow. Thankfully the local market stall seems to be able to produce a much better range of fresh vegetables despite the snow. Meanwhile at the first whiff of unusual weather trains are cancelled and buses stop running.
Snow teaches us a very important lesson: We are not as much in control of things as we often like to think. We have become so used to living our lives independent of the rhythms of nature, it comes as a bit of shock to the system to find that nature still has the upper hand. We delude ourselves into thinking that we have subdued nature to our will, but the snow says otherwise.
Such is our surprise at such unpredictable weather that we feel the need to give it names such as the “Beast from the East” or “Storm Emma”, as if somehow naming it helps us to feel more in charge of events. However, all such name calling only reminds us how much we have grown out of harmony with nature and how little attention we play to the elements that govern our planet. We have become poor at reading the signs of the times.
We are called to be stewards of all God gives us in creation, but we have not been content with that and have rather sought to be masters of the created world. In our arrogance we ignore the evidence of our failure. The impact of climate change is all around us: oceans are polluted with plastics, in many of our cities air quality is damaging the lives of our children and too many species are facing extinction thanks to human action. We are proving poor stewards of this precious planet. Even when we are faced with the consequences of our actions, as demonstrated by the distressing scenes shown on Blue Planet 2, we are still slow to change the lifestyles that reap shut harm on our planet.
As the cold wind bites, our feet slip on the ice, and our too-precious car is buried under a white blanket, it is time for us to learn the lesson of the snow. When the weather forces its attention upon us, it is a necessary reminder that we must live lives in harmony with the created order. We are part of God’s work of creation not set apart from it. The different elements of the creation, and the very heart of its mystery and its wonder, means that nature will always impact on our lives in ways big and small and by the same token the way we live our lives will impact on the natural world around us, again in ways big and small.
Our survival is intertwined with the rest of God’s creation. We must not be so foolish as to think that we are so amazing and masterful that we can carry on as if we were independent of the planet on which we are set.
We need to live lives more in tune with Creation and that begins by living lives more in harmony with the Creator. This season of snow is an important reminder of this fundamental truth but when the snow melts will we once again forget?
The Revd Andrew Bryant is the Canon for Mission and Pastoral Care at Norwich Cathedral. He was previously Team Rector of Portishead, Bristol, in the Diocese of Bath and Wells, and has served in parishes in the Guildford and Lichfield Dioceses, as well as working for twelve years with Kaleidoscope Theatre, a charity promoting integration through theatre for young adults with Down’s Syndrome.
You can read Andrew's latest blog entry here and can follow him via his new Twitter account @AndyBry3.
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