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Day 22 of Lent: Snow days – invitation to simplify

March 7, 2013

Verse for reflection: I have seen all the things that are done under the sun, all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind. Ecclesiastes 1:14, (NIV)

How do you measure snow? I once heard the owner of a radio station in southern Arkansas at the National Federation of Press Women tell this story. They don’t get much snow at that end of Arkansas so when they got a big one back in 1987, everyone was calling the station asking, “How deep is the snow?” No one at the station knew how to measure it. Surely one needed a fancy instrument.

So the station called the U.S. Weather Bureau (obviously in the days before Google) and said, “We’ve got a crazy question down here: How do you measure snow?”

The reply was, “Well, we’ve got a crazy answer for you. Get yourself a yardstick, push it down in the snow, and when you hit bottom, read the yard stick.”

They had twelve inches, (which coincidentally, is how much I measured yesterday at my house when I stuck my yardstick in the snow­).


We’re masters at making the simple complex, like the folks at the Arkansas radio station. For instance, I had always put the twelve disciples of the Bible on a pedestal for so quickly leaving all to follow Jesus. What charisma Christ must have had, I thought. What commitment the disciples showed! What an interesting cultural time when some followed a master around for a period of years instead of going to college, I read.

Then a guest minister at our church started her sermon one Sunday by saying, in reference to the calling of the disciples, “As a wife and mother, I don’t see what’s so wonderful about a bunch of men who go off on a fishing trip one morning and don’t come home for three years. If someone were to offer me a three-year sabbatical with no dishes or clothes to wash, no responsibilities of any kind, to go off and wander around the country with a wonderful teacher, listening to stories and learning great truths, you wouldn’t have to ask me twice!”

So the disciple’s commitment may not have been so lofty and complicated as I was making it.

“Simplify, simplify,” said Henry David Thoreau. “Our life is frittered away by detail.”

The deeper question here is how do we measure happiness. I enjoyed many pictures on Facebook yesterday of kids and parents enjoying their romps in the snow around here. We have not much had this much snow for about two years. Such simple pleasures, especially since many work places were also closed.

We all need a good snow day now and then to remind us of some of life’s simple pleasures of fresh air, a warm house (if you were lucky and didn’t lose power, or have a good wood stove), tasty food, the love of family and friends.


Action: How is God asking you to simplify your (my?) life?


Stories come from Why Didn’t I Just Raise Radishes: Finding God in the Everyday, Herald Press, 1994. Originally printed in Another Way Newspaper Column, syndicated and found online at


From → Faith, Family Life, Nature

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