I, like so many in the Charleston metro area, woke up this morning with shouts in my ear from children dying to see how much snow had fallen on the ground over night. School was canceled and Jim Cantore from the Weather Channel was in town. We surely had a winter wonderland awaiting us as we opened the blinds. Well, not so much.
But what do I know, though?!?! My kids were jumping up and down as they looked upon the glorified frost on our grass. They ran to change into warm clothes. They bolted out the door and were busy scraping every morsel of snow-like substance they could find and doing the best they could to form snowballs. In flew the Facebook photos of snowmen in back yards (maybe snow dolls or snow gophers would be more accurate) and videos of makeshift “sledding” on boogie boards. My daughter, Mae, even removed the trucks and wheels from one of her skateboards and was trying to snowboard down the small knoll in our front yard. We’re going to petition for “sleetboarding” to be added as a sport in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Oh, it’s all been very entertaining, and I’ve been rather proud of the good attitudes and determination of our Lowcountry kids in the neighborhood. They’ve been making the best of a lean situation. As I’ve reflected on it all this afternoon, however, it’s made me consider the way I can tend to look at life. When Jesus says in John 10:10, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly,” did he mean he came so that we might have a good attitude and make the most of a lean situation? I think not.
I am glad my children and the other children in our neighborhood have been enjoying themselves, but I have seen a real snow day with real sledding and my heart aches a bit to see how naïve they are as they scrape by in their snow poverty. I’m reminded of what C.S. Lewis once said about our anemic fleshly desires in his famous sermon The Weight of Glory.
“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
I know my children are too easily pleased with the sleet covered grass because I have seen and know about snow covered mountains. When Jesus said he would bring abundant life, he was talking about reaching down to the very heart where the affections, or as Lewis puts it, desires are found. Jesus didn’t come and die and rise again in order that we might scrape by, but that we would be transformed at the heart level so that our desires would be like his. Our joy would be transcendent. We would not see the thin layer in front of us but rather the storehouses of snow in heaven, and know that our home is there.
What do you have your heart set on today? What’s been dominating your thoughts? Are they pedestrian or majestic thoughts and desires? Do you think that your Father in Heaven’s heart might ache when he sees what you think will excite you? Let us not forget that God is so much greater than a Lowcountry snow day. There is nothing lean about the abundant life he gives us through his Son, Jesus.
Father, lift our eyes to the hills from where our help comes. Let us not settle and scrape, but instead give us your heart and transform our affections so that we will live life in all its fullness. Amen.
[Coming Close is a regular blog by our Dean and Rector, The Very Rev. R. Peet Dickinson IV]