We’re trying to dig out from the fifteen or more inches of snow that we got in central Virginia. Our area isn’t used to this much snow, we’re used to the kind of snow that comes a few inches at a time, looks pretty for a day, and is gone with the rising temperatures within forty-eight hours or so.
Having grown up in Connecticut, I’m used to hearing plows all night through a snow storm. I’m used to driving on roads that are clear enough to drive on. I’m used to people who know how to handle their cars through ice and snow.
I’ve learned here in central Virginia that the wise thing to do is to just wait it out. That’s just not something that I do well. Patience is not a virtue that comes naturally or easily to me. Waiting it out is a difficult task when you want to get things done and when you have a natural tendency towards restlessness.
Even as the snow began to fall last Friday, I took my daughter out for a ride to a few stores. Of course, most of them had closed early with the oncoming storm. I knew that I would be stuck for days and thought that I should make one more last ditch effort to expend some of this restlessness before my exile to the house. As the snow began to pile up, I wondered when I would be freed from my exile.
Being confined to a space for an extended period of time seems to reveal the flaws in me, just like a mirror. It’s one thing to be confined by choice, but when it happens forcibly, it seems to be a different story.
I remember growing up that my mom had this mirror which magnified your face. I always got a kick out of looking in it as things seemed so huge and exaggerated. When I finally got old enough to begin to notice blemishes and unwanted marks on my face, I wondered why on earth someone would want to see themselves that closely. If you know that the marks and blemishes are there, why look at them closer?
Confinement causes one to pause and consider just what their own marks and blemishes look like. Just like that mirror, it seems that it magnified the picture of me so that I couldn’t deny what was revealed so clearly there before me. Once revealed, the question is whether or not you are going to remember what you saw when you walk away or if you will promptly ignore it, forgetting just what you saw revealed in front of you.
As I looked in the “mirror” of confinement and did some self-reflection, I came to grips with the fact that my greatest sin is selfishness. As I started to play a little game of “Six Degrees of Separation of Sin” in my life, I realized that most every sinful act that I committed in my life could find its way back somehow to selfishness. Impatience usually generated from a desire to get to my own stuff, a selfishness with my time. Anger usually generated from that impatience. Wastefulness usually came during times when I thought about the plenty that I had without considering the less that someone else might have. Selfish thoughts, and the list could go on.
In the midst of selfishness, I realized just how selfishness begets selfishness, working itself into a perpetual cycle unless there is intervention and disruption. I can’t help but think that in the midst of the innocence and purity that Adam and Even found themselves, they just didn’t like to be told what they could or couldn’t do and what they could or couldn’t eat, another exercise in selfishness.
My determination to move away from the “mirror” motivated me to dig myself out. Not sure what the neighbors thought as I shoveled my way through our cul-de-sac. A truck and a mini-van weren’t going to miraculously find their way out of our driveway without some kind of action. I shoveled like a man possessed, like a man who is fighting to find his freedom because of what he has discovered about himself in the midst of his exile.
When I finally escaped to the clearly plowed main roads, I called my wife. It was mostly to tell her that I had made it safely, but there was probably a hint of celebration in my voice as well. She asked if I could hear the jealousy in her voice and my heart sank as the mirror was lifted up yet again to reveal what was inside. Of course, I needed some respite from the forced confinement that I had experienced. I needed a place to work where my distractions were severely limited from what they had been, but in the midst of those distractions, I also realized how timely and divine they can be as well. Sometimes we find ourselves forced into exile just so that we can look in the “mirror” and see ourselves, blemishes, warts, scars, and all.