For most people that word conjures visions of a winter wonderland complete with snowmen, hot chocolate and cozy fireplaces. For me it causes a tightening in the chest. Perhaps my tension comes from the fact that I never liked the cold. Even as a child I would play in the snow for a very short time and then flee inside the nice, warm house. More likely the anxiety comes from the blizzard we had in Shilo twenty-two years ago.
At that time my husband was visiting his parents in sunny Arizona. I had five children home and four were sick. We had no phone lines. The electricity was out for three days and without the electricity the water pump did not work.
In spite of it all, we survived just fine and it made a good story. However, whenever I hear a snow forecast I do not focus on the beautiful vision of the falling flakes. Rather, I fret over the elderly and weak who could suffer from hyperthermia. I wonder whether we will have an electric outage. And I am concerned about people who might be stranded due to impassable roads.
Last week we again had snow. Once again my husband was out of the country. He had gone to England for just a two-day business trip and I was worried about him coming home. Sure enough, when he landed Thursday morning, the second day of the snow, he was told the road to Shilo was closed. The weather forecast predicted snow through Friday. I tried to resign myself that I would not see my husband until after Shabbat. I struggled to remind myself that he was safe and alive and would be coming home eventually. I made a gallant effort to be thankful that I had a husband to come home. Still, I looked out my window at all the families building snowmen together. I imagined how nice it would be to take a short, romantic walk with my husband in the snow. And I felt sad.
Then, several hours later, there was a knock at the door and my husband entered. Being that he had grown up and been a truck driver in Chicago he decided to brave the roads. I was thankful to have him home and felt more than a little sheepish about all my worrying.
On Shabbat someone asked the trivia question, “Where is snow mentioned in the daily prayers?” The answer is Psalm 147, a chapter of Tehillim that begins with praising G-d and declaring He will rebuild Jerusalem and gather in the exiles. It continues describing the power of HaShem. Verse 16 declares: He gives snow like fleece, He scatters frost like ashes.
I recite that chapter of Tehillim daily but obviously I had not been paying enough attention to the words. It is HaShem that gives us the snow. I need to remember that he has a plan for whatever he gives us, whether it is snow, a hurricane, or a tornado. Instead of fretting over the elderly and weak I should give extra tzedakah. Instead of wondering whether we will have an electric outage I can be thankful that some of our power comes from gas. Instead of being concerned about stranded people I can focus that concern into my prayers.There was a lesson to be learned, a lesson from that chapter of Tehillim and I hope I learned it. Maybe I can finally begin to leave the worrying to HaShem. Perhaps next time we have snow I can really relax and enjoy the beauty of it.