Zechariah 8:6:

“Thus says the LORD of hosts: Even though it seems impossible to the remnant of this people in these days, should it also seem impossible to me, says the LORD of hosts?”

I had to admit I burst out laughing tonight in my EFM class when this picture showed up for our Theological Reflection. You have to remember, I am often a one-person snow shoveling operation at Trinity in the winter, and I take a special pride in being able to outdo First Christian Church next door, who has a snow blower, and First Methodist Church down the street and around the corner, who often has more than one person shoveling, and a four-wheeler with a blade. Granted, we have a smaller amount to shovel, but all things being equal, I have been able to keep pace with them most weekends. So, in some ways, this picture has some laughable amounts of personal meaning.

So I was a bit of the odd person out when, the more I looked at this, the less daunting it became. Interestingly enough, I started imagining the sounds and feelings that went with this picture–dead quiet except for the wind and the movement within the tops of the trees–and the sound became more inviting the more my mind’s ear could hear it. I had to ask myself, “Why does this picture not fill me with despair and resignation?”

One of the things that seems to be evolving within me is an increasing recognition of what is totally out of my realm of control. Mind you, I am far from perfect on this one, but I am sensing an increase of an ability to “let God handle what I immediately realize I can’t control, yet have faith that things will work out somehow.”

When I looked at this picture, I could instantly recognize that one person cannot remove that wall of snow. But neither was my immediate reaction that the snow NEEDED to be removed. Perhaps it is supposed to be tunneled through, climbed over, or circumvented–or maybe even left alone, and I was to turn around and go back to the place from whence I came. So my first thoughts were not, “What am I supposed to do?” but “What is supposed to be accomplished?”

Perhaps that thought is an inkling of recognition that these choices are not about my will, but God’s.

The prophet Zechariah lived in strange times, about 500ish B.C.E. Israel was in exile in Babylon. His prophecies were more about having faith that things would be changed, and more about bringing hope in the center of exile, than it was “what to do about it.” His prophesies gave vivid imagery of “what is to be the glory of Israel” but did not really put a time frame on it…merely, “Someday.”

It’s easy to look at the snowpile and immediately assume the job is for you to remove it, alone, without bothering to survey the situation. That may not always be the case.

I was so struck by the ease of which I started hearing the noises in this picture in class, I decided to meditate on it last night before bed, with myself as the person with the shovel. I realized “over” could suffocate me, if I hit a soft spot. “Remove” was not an option. “Cut a path” might be an option, but not before checking out “around.”

Then I thought a little about “what was on the other side?” If it was “home,” then it makes sense to find a way through or around the pile. But what if what lies on the other side is unknown? Perhaps it is not time for me to experience what is on the other side of the pile until the thaw. Perhaps there is something “frozen” within me that must slowly melt.

Then I imagined myself as a person on the other side of the pile. Do I even know there is a person with a shovel on the other side? Did I need rescuing of some sort? Is the pile someone in my past, in which a seemingly impossible wall lies between us? Or is it the person with the shovel who is “lost” and it is my job to find a way to go around and say, “Come with me?”

It brings me back to the prophet Zechariah. Imagine trying to sort out prophesy that is not meant for you or your generation, but to still use it to provide hope. How many times in our lives are we to be prophets to another generation, but not our own? Any of us who teach those younger than us, whether students or children or grandchildren, wonder that sometimes.

But I invite you to also spend some time with this image of the snow pile and see where it leads.