Is it time to pity the sufferers of the “Polar Vortex” that spun its terror on the Canadian psyche this week? Weather, and its winsome way of bonding our nation together, pushed us to our emotional limits as we saw the best and worst of us light up in charged particles like the best aurora borealis.
These are the trials that show us what we’re made of: teenagers learning to love home after the discomforts of power outages made them refugees; Eighty-three-year-olds in Edmonton posing in their pajamas outside their snow-sodden homes, just to shock the kids I guess?; city folk learning that windrow is no longer a prairie word for abundant harvest sheaf, but rather it’s the generous crest the snowplow left by your drive.
In the warm confines of Canada’s largest airport, crowds became surly and likely stinky over “ground stop.” That phrase is almost as magical as “Polar Vortex”; does anything ever really stop our hyper-sped world to such a degree that we can call “ground stop”? I hear a holy hush trying to happen, and I think the trauma of the “Polar Vortex”, (what the U.S. National Weather Service called Canada’s woes), this vortex trauma could be really good for us.
CBC reported that on Monday night that police had to be brought in to calm down 300 passengers angry over delays in frozen baggage. Testings, however they come, reveal our soul wealth. There won’t be enough police or tax dollars to cover the next round of weather woe; it’s time instead to brush off the spiritual disciplines for the inevitable. No need that you’ve missed this storm to engage these, like the aging worship structures that dot our landscape; these are qualities that take a long time to create, a community to maintain, and practice to benefit from:
If you’re a secularist, Simon and Garfunkle’s “Sounds of Silence” remind you there is an old friend to be found in being quiet. For the Christian, the invitation from the Psalms to “be still and know that I am God” works its beauty.
The great German martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote “Let him who cannot be alone beware of community …Let him who is not in community beware of being alone…Each by itself has profound pitfalls and perils.” Bonhoeffer was a theologian turned spy who tried to stop Adolf Hitler, yet I doubt he imagined a world as wired as ours. Being alone in solitude prepares us for being with others.
I never thought of turning off my Christmas lights when further up the grid 300,000 people were blinking in the dark. Purposely going without what we take for granted, food or utility, is a tool for examining our own greed.
In the Christian faith, these ancient spiritual disciplines have long been used to better align a person to their God. Author Andy Crouch calls this “image bearing”, sharing with the world the best of what we can be. In his new book, Playing God, Redeeming the Gift of Power, Mr. Crouch reminds us we’re quite powerful when we use spiritual disciplines. “Calm, hopeful, careful, clear” is how Mr. Crouch describes what comes out of his personality in disciplining his own use of power. Ground stop, Polar Vortex, who knows what’s coming next, it’s time to get ready with all of whom we are.
Lorna Dueck is host of Context TV, seen Sundays on Global and Vision TV.