The Author

What Is It about Snow?

What is it about snow and Christmas? Although it has been taken out of the forecast, the last little while the newspapers had been announcing the possibility that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day would be accompanied by a little white or frozen precipitation. Whenever I heard folks talking about it, I could hear the glee in their voices. I still remember some years ago leaving a Christmas Eve service to discover that snow had begun falling. Even some of the grinches about such things had to allow that it made the evening a little more special.

Perhaps it has to do with the fact that we live outside the snow belt. Ellen and I have friends who live in Vermont. They’ve been shoveling snow for a month, so the idea of a white Christmas holds no special attraction for them.But for those of us who rarely see such a day, the possibility excites us a little.

I am sure that some of our dreaming has to do with the media. How many movies have exposed us to the wonders of a white Christmas wherein all is made right with the world? Movies where couples fall in love, holiday inns are saved, good guys win, and angels get their wings, all accompanied by snow on the ground. It’s almost as though none of this could happen without a layer of white over the muddiness of life.

I wonder if it is not also an excuse to slow down. At this time of year it is so easy to become so busy that the celebration of Christmas can be upon us and past so quickly that we lose all sense of its meaning. So many commitments and responsibilities pull at us that the only joy we have is when we are able to say, “It’s over.” Could it be that snow gives us an excuse to say to that extra commitment, that extra tug at the sleeve, “Oh, I’m sorry, I can’t; it’s snowing.”

Here’s the problem: it’s Texas. It probably won’t snow. So, when you are pulled in every direction in the next few days and you just want to stop and reflect on the wonder of God with us, the one who is Emmanuel, may I make a suggestion? Instead of looking for an excuse because you don’t want to do “just one more thing,” don’t be sorry, be glad. Just say, “I can’t. It’s Christmas.” For that is what it will be, whether it is snowing or not. After all, in this midst of all this busyness,isn’t Jesus what this is supposed to be all about?

Let's See Where This One Will Take us

Just a little north and west of San Antonio is the little town of Bandera. We visited The Cowboy Capital of the World on our recent time away. It was not on our original agenda, but we had heard some good words about it, so when we headed west, we decided that we could eat lunch there as we meandered our way back to the girls in Austin.

The population sign at the city limits said that just short of a thousand people live there. I think they were all on the main street of town that day looking for a place to eat lunch. It was the busiest and most-crowded 937 population town I have ever seen. Truth be told, it’s mostly a tourist trap, catering to would-be cowboys and people who come to float down the Medina River. We ate lunch in the Old Spanish Trail cafe (I recommend the enchiladas), then poked around in some of the shops that line the street. Ellen admired a silver bracelet displayed in one of the windows. Maybe the store will actually be open the next time we are there.

As we left, the plan was to take the road north out of town toward the general direction of Kerrville where we could pick up the road back to Austin. Following my nose rather than a map, I headed in the direction of what I am still convinced is north. About ten miles down the road, Ellen convinced me that we were on the wrong road. I said, “Well, let’s just see where this takes us.”

If you are ever in that part of the world, take highway 16 (north, I think) out of Bandera. When you do, you will enter a world that is unlike any other you have seen in Texas. As we drove well below the speed limit on the road, we encountered streams running by the road, deer grazing in the pasture, trees arching over the highway, closing off the sun. At one point, I exclaimed, “This is like driving in a park!” Before we reached the town of Comfort (isn’t that a great name?), we had forded a low water crossing and climbed a mountain (at least by Texas standards) whose switchbacks wouldn’t allow us to drive any faster than fifteen miles an hour. The drive ranks as one of the highlights of our trip, and it was all a mistake, a last-second decision.

Or, maybe it was grace. God works like that. Sometimes in the midst of the plans we are making, we are faced with a choice to turn right or left. We say, “Let’s see where this one will take us,” and we discover surprises and blessings that we would have otherwise missed. Sometimes, we make mistakes and we discover that God is there to redeem, to change the plans, to lead us in ways that we would have never gone in our headlong determination to get where we are going. The key, it seems to me, is to be open to the possibility of God working even in the meanderings of life. The key is to be open to God’s grace. You just never know where it might take you.