Recently I had a meeting planned over in Oxford, but having heard the weather forecast for snow that weekend I wondered momentarily if I should go.
I kept hearing phrases like ‘adverse weather conditions’, ‘severe weather warnings’ and ‘don’t travel unless absolutely necessary’. And on top of that we are all supposed to know what ‘amber alert’ means.
Not one to give up easily, I decided to toss back my head and laugh in the face of weather warnings and continue with my plans for the trip. Okay…well almost.
I packed an overnight bag, put a shovel in the back of the car, along with jump leads, a blanket and, for some unknown reason, a large bag of Minstrels, thinking if I was stuck in my car on the motorway at least I wouldn’t starve. Oh! and a double CD of Charlie Parker. Well, it could be a long night!
The thing about snow is it is a very disruptive thing. Motorways shut, trains get delayed, schools close, and Amazon can’t deliver.
As someone who generally hates disruption and likes to plans ahead for any anticipated inconvenience, snow is very much my bête noire. (I once drove 26 miles to avoid a 3-mile traffic jam on the M1, I am that sad.)
But having seen the fun that my kids have in the snow and the joy it brings me in seeing them play, I have been helped to rethink one or two things.
What if disruption was not a bad thing, but an opportunity for spontaneity? What if disruption was a gift that stops us in our tracks and breaks into our carefully planned routine?
What if disruption could be seen as a voice that speaks into our soul and says, “Stop what you are doing and listen to yourself. Listen to others around you. Listen to creation.”
When was the last time you did that?
When did you seriously listen to someone else apart from yourself? When did you give your undivided time to someone you love and spend it actually listening, not just hearing? When did you stop to ponder about the direction of your own life? Maybe you are slightly afraid to listen to your own real feelings for fear the wheels might come off?
The good news is you are no different to anyone else.
When we are inconvenienced we can find ourselves getting angry, irritable and short with people. True?
These are not good personal discoveries, but then we can think we don’t need to be cured of anything in particular and believe life is just fine.
Stopping is not easy. Like a car, it requires a reasonable breaking distance, depending how fast our life is going. We have to prepare to stop. Sometimes we are forced to slam on the brakes hard.
So what is our Plan B when Plan A does not go according to plan? Do we even have one?
A friend of mine who has partly inspired my thoughts here, Brian Draper, works with executives to nurture their spiritual intelligence. He calls these times ‘holy disruptions’. In his book Less is More he talks about divine opportunities that force us to reconnect with ourselves, others and God. They actually start to help us feel human again and see the return of a sense of purpose. It is where we begin to breathe again in between the quantity of demands and rediscover a quality of life.
As Christians, we would call that a spiritual encounter. We become aware of something other than us that leads to life having a greater significance.
I love those poetic and profound, words of Jesus’ found in Mathews’ gospel: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
The funny thing about snow is how beautiful and delicate it is. Something we might not notice if we are too busy trying to avoid it.