There is something incredibly mesmerizing about snow, and lately we have had so much of it, it is actually starting to feel much like the winters of my youth. Of course being young, there was, with every snowfall, a hope that there would be no school the next day. Of course I didn’t have to drive or travel in it. It would be much later in life that I would begin to understand the strange look on my mother’s face every time the snow fell. It was a look of foreboding and dread which would only mean two things: one – that she would not be working the next day (therefore she would not be paid for that day) and two – that she would have to travel on public transportation in the arctic cold and snail-paced, slippery traffic. I don’t know about you but I like snow, but I do not necessarily like what it does. In this I mean that everything slows down, and after big storms, I feel somewhat left behind. Like the ground, my agenda freezes up. The cancellation of things just seems to set me back. In many ways life is like these storms, it blankets us, slows us down and makes us wait. Sometimes the waiting is excruciating, some of us are waiting for God’s confirmation that all will be well. Some are waiting with bated breath to hear a good medical report. Some of us are waiting to hear God’s good news that our finances or our relationships will be better, especially in a new year. Concomitantly, like Terry McMillan, some of us are just “waiting to exhale,” to find space for breath and rest from a stressful season and stressful year.
Wherever we are, we are always challenged to be prayerful and centered in Christ as we wait. As life sometimes blankets us, it is the power of the Holy Spirit that helps us endure. It is no surprise that the New Testament Greek word for spirit is pneuma – which also means ‘air’. It is God’s spirit that gives us breathing space especially when the shadow side of life seems, like snow, to cover everything, including our hopes and dreams. As Christians we are reminded by the apostle Paul in his first letter to the Thessalonians to “Pray without ceasing,” and to “give thanks” for God’s power in “all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).
There is a great quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that in many ways is descriptive of the anticipation and uncertainty that comes with a new year, the quote is as follows: “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” In many ways the new year almost functions like a tabularasa, or clean slate where we can start over. In this new time, what will our resolutions, promises and steps of new faith look like? What will our centered prayers and hopes sound like? As people of faith, how will we be replenished, refreshed and ready to start anew? What will the new season reveal to us? Be open and centered so that the Holy Spirit can blow through us, replenish us and give us the space to grow in Christ.
Rev. Alonzo T. Johnson was Pastor of Oak Lane Presbyterian Church from 2003 to 2014.