I was born almost 59 years ago in Downtown Atlanta. I grew up in Fayette County, Georgia, about 30-40 minutes (without traffic!) from Atlanta, and then I went to the University of Georgia, after which I entered The United Methodist ministry. I've been appointed to serve an hour north of Atlanta and an hour and a half south of Atlanta. As the crow flies, I've probably never lived more than 25 miles east or west of Downtown Atlanta, other than the years I spent in a college dorm.
That's a pretty small box in which to live one's life. It's also a box that fits into a category of climatology called humid subtropical, which means we get four distinct seasons and abundant year-round precipitation. It also means that in the Summer our relative humidity is regularly above 90%, in the Fall we often wear short pants to football games, in the Winter we can be in the single digits one day and in the 50s two days later, and in the Spring, you just wake up and look outside and wonder what the day might bring, other than pollen. It also means we sometimes run the air conditioner on Christmas Day.
And it might help explain why I love snow so much. It's a minor miracle for a snow storm to finagle its way into that tiny smidgeon of Planet Earth. It seems to usually mean that a cold front has to escape North Dakota and sink far enough south to reach us at about the same time a system brings moisture out of the Gulf of Mexico. Usually, those two collide with each other such that we get cold rain and little more. But, every now and then, it all lines up just right.
I get as giddy as a six year old at the mere mention we might see a few flakes. If a weather forecaster starts talking about accumulations of the white stuff, then I can barely get my attention off the latest radio or TV report. It must be genetic; my Mother loved snow and I think both my brother and sister do, as well.
So, I write this on the morning of Saturday January 15, 2022. The meteorologists have teased it for a week and now we're getting close. Rain is supposed to enter our little part of the world today and the temperatures will drop. We might have a "wintry mix" and, if all goes right, maybe it'll change to the really good stuff some time Sunday morning or afternoon. Of course, I now live below Atlanta and further north and east is expected to get more, but jealously won't get me anything anyway.
How rare is it? Atlanta last officially had measurable snow in January 2018. That's four years. Four long years. In that span, Anchorage, Alaska has hit 90 degrees. They hold the Olympics more often than snow elbow smashes into the heart of Georgia.
Here it comes . . . maybe. Within hours, our grocery shelves will be devoid of bread and milk, the two things Georgians obviously don't keep in our homes and that we think are essential to surviving a blizzard, or a wintry mix. We'll all be debating about holding church services on Sunday morning - I've already seen one church that has moved to online only - and people will be firing up the generators they bought four years ago and that have sat quietly in the garage ever since. Folks who have moved down from up North will laugh at the natives and somebody will start complaining about how we need to purchase more snow equipment for our roads. I guess so it can gather rust like the generators. Some people do at least get to use their generators when a severe thunderstorm knocks out the power for a few hours. But snow equipment?
In Matthew 5:45, Jesus says that "He (God) causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." God, Jesus is saying, cares for, and provides for, all people through the rhythm of rain and sun and we are to care for and love all people as well. Verses 43 and 44 are admonitions by Jesus to love even our enemies, so verse 45 helps draw out both the illustration and the application of His teaching.
There's a truth here that shouldn't be passed over too quickly, one perhaps expressed in the age-old truism, "Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it." Some attribute this wisdom to Mark Twain, but it seems likely that it was really the thought of Charles Dudley Warner. Either way, the point is that we can only live with the weather, maybe predict it, but never control it. It's above our pay grade.
God sends rain and sun and, by extension, snow as well. We are not the real masters of our universe, no matter how boldly we proclaim it nor how desperately we try to enact it. Those clouds are going where they will, no matter how much I want them to come my way. They'll dump a flake or two, or a foot or more, and I can't do a thing about it. And all the snow haters won't be able to whisk them away, either. It's over our heads, literally.
That doesn't lead me to a deterministic fatalism. Rather, it re-orients me to my proper place in the grand scheme of things. I'm not God. Neither are you. Let God be God.
That's why I'm headed to church on Sunday morning. Or, if God graces us with the white stuff, I'll still pause in worship and reflection. It's my weekly reminder to put and keep God on His throne.
Now, Lord, if it's not too much to ask, could we please have a little snow? Four years has been a really long time!