Sunday was a hard call to make. At 6:00 a.m. our lot, streets, and sidewalks were fine. At 7:00 they were as well. At 7:30, I went in to make the coffee like I always do on Sunday morning. When I came back out at a little before 8:00, the conditions had rapidly deteriorated. I had pretreated with about 200 lbs. of ice melt, and even that wasn’t enough to prevent the accumulation of sleet. At 8:25 we made the call to cancel church, which left us very little time to let people know. Only one person didn’t hear the news and came to church anyway.
Snow days on Sunday are kind of nice for ministers. There is a lot of work that we do throughout the week that goes into our presentations on Sundays. While there is a ton of stuff that we have to do throughout the week, there is a nice little section of things we get to reuse. On top of that, we get an extra week to practice!
I’ve become more in favor of canceling church when there is a question as to the safety of our members. It didn’t used to be that way, but it was a case of not wanting to cancel and getting reminded of God’s wintery power that changed my approach. We had just moved to Columbia, MD and the weather was calling for one of those storms that may drop 1 inch and it may drop 12 inches. I’d been in some "maybe 12 inches" weather in Arkansas that turned out to be a dusting, so I was convinced that news casters only used numbers like that for ratings. When one of the elders called for my opinion, I was sure it would be nothing but would rather leave it up to them. After it hit 6 inches we stuck a yard stick in the middle of the yard. When the snow came to a stop, we could just make out half of the number 21 on the stick. We were digging out for a week.
When we canceled today there was a lingering nagging that we may have made a bad decision. Within 15 minutes of our decision, however, the streets, sidewalks, and parking lot were whited over. At 9:10 the Virginia State Police asked everyone to stay off the roads. By noon we had 4 inches of white stuff on the ground. Digging out was an archaeological dig through sedimentary layers of fluffy white snow, pellets of sleet, and a base layer of slush courtesy of the 200 lbs. of ice melt.
Sadly, a bolt on the snow blower broke and took the blower out of commission. My three sons and I resorted to snow shovels (it’s amazing how fast work gets done now that they are big enough to really help). Random "accidents" involving snow from one person’s shovel ending up on the face of another’s led to snow ball fights and building the world’s largest snowman (once they get above about 5 feet tall you have to build them like they’re laying down since it’s impossible to lift the mid-sections when they weigh as much as they do).
By the way, this is not the appropriate time for our friends in California or Florida to share with us how warm it was where they are. Everyone outside of those states, however, is welcome to chime in.