“I’m dreaming of a white January 19th…” No, those words wouldn’t have worked for Bing Crosby who, in 1942, sang the top-selling record of all time. Nor does this morning’s ‘Dixie snow’ work for our ‘permanent snowbirds’ who grew up north of the Mason-Dixon Line, came south to Selma and have never gone back. But watching it outside our kitchen window while making my “Chili Ron Carne” recipe at 10:25 a.m., it is absolutely delightful. Such excitement works for me.
I usually saw two sizeable snows a year when I was a kid in rural southeast Arkansas. I even loved it when I did a 16-month interim pastorate in Fairfield, Iowa (2001-2002), and snow was on the ground from the first week in December till the first week in April, and “glaciers” were on the church parking lot. I remember the wind-chill down to 20 below. It wasn’t “tundra,” but was amazingly different for this southern boy.
To get back to our “Winter Wonderland” in the South, Rich Thomas said last night on WSFA that six-year-olds living in the area have never seen snow at home. Speaking of kids, my wife is as excited as one. She and I are talking about building a snow-man or snow-woman if there is enough accumulation. We have enjoyed making and eating ’snow-cream’ in other places we have lived, and hope there’s enough snow for that, too. Sadie Belle, our Weimaraner ‘grand-dog’ wearing her ’snowman collar,’ went outside for about 3 minutes. She didn’t know what to make of it. She tentatively approached the 1/2 inch accumulation in our yard earlier this morning, licked it a few times to get a sense of what snow is, and backed off. I managed to get a few snapshots of her as she did, and hope to snap at least one good shot for posterity.
It seems appropriate for me to play the CD, “A Winter Solstice, the Silver Anniversary Edition,” which is a beautiful arrangement of songs by composers like Richard Schonherz’ “When Earth’s Last Picture is Painted,” Paul McCandless’ “The Silver Swan,” and Jim Brickman’s “Shades of White.” They’re almost as pretty as the snow falling.
The Stones think Ivanhoe Drive is a pretty nice place to live, and though the neighborhood is nearly 40 years old, it’s still quite attractive. This is not the least of the reasons we take daily walks around Castlewood. It wasn’t so pretty after Hurricane Ivan came through (September 16, 2004), but today’s snowfall makes it lovelier than I have ever seen it. Just gorgeous!
So it is I feel inspired to write a second blog within a week. I typically write just one. I like to seize inspiration as it comes in whatever way the Lord sends it.
As the concept of ‘inspiration’ comes to mind, conditions pending, I pray that we’ll have worship tomorrow and hear the music leadership of the best musician in the area, Sarah Morelock, and the finest young preacher I know, Caleb Smith, who is planning on preaching on Daniel 3: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Assuming it will happen, the Word in music and proclamation is always more inspiring than precipitation in any form, although the slick, wet stuff may be more ominous. Caleb already put out a “Calling Post” this morning letting our congregation know he’s planning on preaching, and we’re still planning for Christian author/inspirational speaker, Catherine Martin, to lead our Women’s Conference Sunday night, 5:00 p.m. and Monday, 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Our Wholeness and Healing Service will be in the Chapel at 6:30 p.m. Sunday,
As I am writing, I am receiving calls from Jim Nichols, our Director of Facilities, Dennis Palmer, the owner/publisher of the Selma Times-Journal, and Jack Lovelace, Pastor at First Baptist, Selma. Jim tells me “The church’s heat is on for tomorrow morning.” Dennis is wondering about ‘public notices’ he wants to put on the STJ website, saying: “There will be icy patches on the roads and likely a hard freeze tonight.” Jack wants to jointly decide what our congregations will do, saying: “The EMA Director says that if it drops down to 19 degrees as predicted tonight, the roads will be almost impassable.” Jack, like me, is concerned about folks who have to drive some distance to get to church, and the possibility of slipping on treacherous steps going into our churches should things freeze over. We’ll just put out rock salt in the case of Sunday morning worship. My wife, Judy, is weighing in her thoughts, too, telling me: “Our patio table is frozen over.”
Hmmm. We’ll be prudent and prayerful. God has given his children the technology to be on top of conditions whether they are worsening or improving. He has also given us common sense. We’ll send the word if necessary. At 12:06 p.m. Saturday, and Rich Thomas reports 5 1/2 inches accumulation in Orrville and four inches of precipitation here. It doesn’t look like 4 inches in west Selma, but in other parts it may well be as he reports. At 12:50 p.m., the same meteorologist says it could get down into the teens tonight. Oh, boy!
In a matter of writing off-and-on for a couple of hours, I have jumped from inspiration to concern. The ‘little boy in me’ gives way to ‘the responsible man’ God helped me become. Suddenly, an old memory comes back to me. During the last week of December, 1981, Judy and I were in Coventry, England, and eight inches of snow were on the ground. We went to the Evensong service at St. Michael’s Cathedral where five of us sat in folding chairs around the baptismal font. It was an intimate and special worship event for us. But everyone of us WALKED to that worship service. No one drove. Only Bobby and Mae Mae Price can do that at First Presbyterian in Selma if conditions are slick. Almost everyone drives to our church campus.
Right now, after conversing again with Jack Lovelace, Caleb Smith, and, of course, Jim Nichols who will be in touch with our breakfast-cooking crew, I am thinking the safe thing to do is to call off breakfast and Sunday School, but plan on having 11:00 a.m. service along with the rest of our services. Caleb will send out a ‘Calling Post’ tonight to let everyone know that for sure. If things look bad tomorrow morning, we can always put out another ‘mass phone call’ shortly after 8:00 a.m.
Even as I ponder and pray about the above concerns, the Lord still inspires. He reminds us that he is the God of creation and his creation is certainly bigger. Weather is beyond our control. If we can’t come together as a ‘faith family’ at 301 Broad Street tomorrow morning, we can be together as we broadcast on our radio station as we have for over 40 years, WMRK, 1340AM. Our shut-ins who listen with Sunday’s bulletin in hand would certainly recommend it. Again, we’ll let you know.
Meanwhile, as a servant-pastor, I’ll be praying for your safety. Be careful. Stay warm. Be vigilant. Whether we’re together Sunday morning or a little later, we will “wait on the Lord” (Psalm 130:5-6). I hope you stay inside today and enjoy the comfort of your home. Why don’t you have a cup of hot chocolate?
Yours in white-covered Alabama,