A snow of unity

In many ways we live in a time of division, certainly in our politics but also culturally and generationally. Christianity itself and, sadly, the Catholic Church too can seem far from Jesus’ prayer before his Ascension that we “may all be one,” something called to mind annually during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which opens Jan. 18.

And then a foot of snow fell last weekend.

It fell on Democrats and Republicans. It fell on the lawns, abodes, and streets of those living in wealthy zip codes and ones high in poverty. It fell on churches of every denomination, in cities and in small towns.

And while there remains some division on whether snow itself is a good thing, look what happened! The snowfall inspired those able to shovel, blow, or plow the driveways and walks of senior or homebound neighbors. People stopped on roadways or came out of their homes to help push struggling motorists.

Where some saw inconvenience, others discovered joy. Parents and grandparents took to the nearest hill with their children and squealed right along with them. Snow figures were built in yards — no technology necessary and no expense needed, except for maybe a borrowed carrot.

The snow offered many life lessons and analogies. Some were spiritual. After driving behind a plow from Bloomington to Wapella to celebrate Mass Sunday at St. Patrick Church there, Father Jeffrey Stirniman reportedly compared plows to the Holy Spirit, guiding us on the right path. If we don’t follow, he said, we can get stuck in a ditch.

The snow will melt. Our divisions will remain. But God’s love showers upon us not just on one day or weekend, but every minute. On Democrats and Republicans. On rich and poor. On young and old. If we can do a better job of letting it soak in, fill and overflow our personal reservoirs, maybe we can make it visible and help establish lasting unity, charity, and joy. — Thomas J. Dermody

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