One of my favorite things about living in Alaska is… Snow!! But, what is soft, white and gorgeous piled up in my yard, layered on the trees and covering the mountains turns into something dangerous and life threatening on our roads and highways.
We received about 10 inches of snow on Friday and then a little more last night, but as I set out to drive my kids to school, I didn’t give the road conditions much thought. We live on the outskirts of town and the school is located close to downtown Anchorage, a distance of 12 miles or so along the main highway. Almost immediately there was a traffic slowdown. We were inching along for miles. As I checked the car clock I realized that the kids would definitely be late for school. Eventually, we passed the area that was causing the problem where there were multiple cars in the ditch on both sides of a divided highway. I suddenly felt very grateful for this slowdown in my life. If everyone had been going 60 miles an hour, I probably would have as well and I might not have had any idea that the roads were actually icy and dangerous. I felt well cared for in that long line of cars as we drove slowly and carefully, mindful of the conditions and of the cars around us.
It has made me think of other slowdowns, interruptions or disruptions in my day and in my life. How much of the time can I look at them as gifts? How often am I grateful for them? We are headed into what many consider the busiest time of our year. There will be long lines, full parking lots, harried service people, and short tempers. Can I remember to allow the outer inconvenience or disruption to be an opportunity to slow down inwardly?
I also want to be intentional about finding the places in this beautiful time of year for simple pleasures, quiet and peace. I look forward tonext weekend when my family and I bundle up in our coats and boots, drive two hours down the highway and then tramp into the woods to cut down our not-so-perfect Christmas tree. We have a lovely contemplative service at our church celebrating the winter solstice, our longest night, which I can feel my heart leaning toward, even now. A friend of mine has formed a group that gathers on Wednesdays at noon to practice body prayer together. It is a time to pause in the middle of our day and in the middle of our week to experience God and to come back to ourselves.
May you have many “slowdowns” today and in these days to come. And when they come, may you recognize them and welcome them as gifts of peace.