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Friday, February 07, 2014


Seeing Through Stained Glass:

A Mid-Week Reflection

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On Being Stuck on a Snow Day

Psalm 142.7—Bring me out of this prison, so that I may give thanks to your name…

It was about 1 pm yesterday when, through the hushed purple and gentle golden stained glass windows in my study, I noticed the snow. Flakes were falling fast and with purpose as they soared through the sky. A dusting quickly turned into a covering, and streets already paved with ice became consumed by snow.

Despite living mere blocks away from my favorite building in Lincoln, I knew I needed to get home quickly. When your vehicle of choice is a rear-wheel drive Chevy pick up truck, you have just moments between the accumulating inches of snow to get where you need to be. Otherwise, your chances of getting stuck increase exponentially.

And well,

despite my best intentions,

as well as my ability to

nimbly navigate in wintery weather

I made it all the way to my house

before I got stuck.

After 30 minutes of spinning my tires, rocking and rolling, I was eventually rescued by a thoughtful neighbor, and was able to free my tiny truck. I waded through the white snow, turned black by this point with the stench of rubber on its surface, and made it the 15 feet into my garage.

That moment of being stuck was frustrating. I was so close, and yet, so far away. Despite employing all the necessary tactics, and taking my time so I could arrive safely, still I managed to get stuck. My adrenaline was pumping and my heart racing as I tried and tried and tried to complete this journey on my own.

Being stuck is no fun. There is perhaps no worse feeling than being trapped or fastened to some facet of life. Looking out my writing room window, I see cars buried in snow; neighbors un-sticking themselves with shovels and snow blowers; and I see something else too. Just beyond the trees that hang heavy with snow, past the intersection glistening with ice, there is a reminder sparking in the soft snow. From the window I see an opportunity to stop:

to stop wanting to be unstuck;

to stop wishing for warmer weather;

to stop pondering how problematic these winter weather patterns have been

and to begin just being.


Being “stuck” has made me realize that life isn’t so much about progress as it is about process. Spring will have its day. We know that it will come: but winter needs hers as well. Soon the sun will shine and the warmer weather will return, and we will be liberated from being stuck. But we must not hurry these forced days off so quickly. Having to slow down provides us the occasion to engage in activities for which we often don’t have time. We can drink our coffee more deliberately. We can take our time working the crossword puzzle in the paper. And we can do the difficult work of stopping rather than starting; stalling rather than moving—learning that perhaps one cannot happen without the other.

Maybe being stuck is necessary to being unstuck, maybe acting cannot happen without listening first.

When we’re stuck, what is the world trying to reveal to us?
When we’re stuck, what is your soul speaking to your personhood?
When we’re stuck, what is God bringing forth in your beautiful life?

Poet Wendell Berry said this about Winter,

“Suppose we did our work
like the snow, quietly, quietly,
leaving nothing out.”

So friends, put your arms around your soul, embrace the anguish that comes with being stuck, and respond to your summons from God. Get ready for the adventure of growing into the next part of your life. Getting stuck is worth whatever angst you must go through just so you can hear God say to you,

"Hang on, you are about to get unstuck."

[Adam Quine, First Presbyterian Church, Lincoln]


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