So, I grew up in Canada. In Edmonton, Alberta (though the picture above was from Christmas Day in Utah). It is in Canada that my primary family system of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins lived. I didn’t know so much about stereotypes of Canadians then. The ones about being earthy, kind, good-hearted, like when you need to face the cold together. When you need to shovel snow together. When you pull over to help push a car that is stuck in the snow. These are all things that we just did. It was a way of being. Generally.
At a deeper level, there was an inherent turning to one another. To be helpful. To tend to each other. To interrupt what perhaps was, or perhaps has become, an obsession with tight schedules, mechanistic systems that often have us apologizing for anything that is short of super-human. Most modern systems with their impressive accountabilities don’t account for what happens when nature takes over.
I love the way that William Young (Canadian-born by the way) expresses this in his novel, The Shack, written in 2007. It’s a small bit of text, not particularly germane to the overarching theme of the book. However, as soon as I read it, I recognized some of the thinking that has me appreciating snow storms and those days growing up in Canada.
“There is something joyful about storms that interrupt routine. Snow or freezing rain suddenly releases you from expectations, performance demands, and the tyranny of appointments and schedules. And unlike illness, it is largely a corporate rather than individual experience. One can almost hear a unified sigh rise from the nearby city and surrounding countryside where Nature has intervened to give respite to the weary humans slogging it out within her purview. All those affected this way are united by a mutual excuse, and the heart is suddenly and unexpectedly a little giddy. There will be no apologies needed for not showing up to some commitment or other. Everyone understands and shares in this singular justification, and the sudden alleviation of the pressure to produce makes the heart merry.”