The boys burst out of church and ran wildly towards the cafeteria, skidding to a stop on the slush-covered sidewalks and whirling in wonder as the fluffy flakes of snow drifted gently to the ground. The thermometer hovered around 28 degrees, and the morning’s weather had alternated between heavy winds and gentle snow.
I settled my muffler around my face and continued my supervision rounds, confident that my waterproof, breathable, wind-resistant pants and jacket would keep me toasty as I made sure the students played safely after lunch and into the early afternoon. I could handle 90 minutes of outside duty in a winter storm!
The wonder of snow trumped the need to eat—after all, it only snows once or twice a year here in the high desert of Arizona, and it took all my powers of persuasion to herd everyone into the cafeteria for lunch. I grabbed a tray of food and settled down to eat it near the cafeteria doorway so I could remind the students to stay inside until I finished my food.
I ate quickly, and my mind raced to keep up. I had so much to do in the last week before Christmas vacation started. I shuffled and rearranged my schedule a dozen times whilst I ate. Hopefully, my efforts to prepare ahead would pay off and everything would fall into place.
The second I stood up to take my tray to the dish room counter, I heard excited whispers rise in a wave of “She’s going out now!” and “Hurry up!” The wave of wiggling kids followed me out the door, and I reminded them to only throw snowballs at trees and rocks, unless they had the express permission to engage in a snowball fight with another human—and no, I didn’t want to have a snowball fight with anyone.
By this time, only the tips of the green grass pushed out through the blanket of wet snow. Boys formed snowballs with their bare hands and launched them into the air, only to see them splat with a satisfying explosion on the sidewalks. Surely, their hands will get cold and they’ll retreat to the dorm any minute, I thought.
I kept walking my circles, stopping to chat with a student now and then, and reminding kids to not throw snowballs at buildings or vehicles. Most of the students had finished lunch and gone back to the dormitories by the end of my first hour on duty. The wind picked up, and I shook my head at the faithful few who remained outside.
And then I noticed that my faithful few happened to have very little on. My inner mama bear marched me over to where they played in front of the cafeteria, ready to scold them for staying out so long in the freezing snow with only tennis shoes, church pants and sweatshirts on.
“Look what we made, Mrs. Ojeda!” one yelled as I approached. His deep brown eyes shone with pure joy and I bit my tongue.
“A snowman!” I enthused. “Let me take a photo of it!” I bent down to the snowman’s level (he scarcely reached my shins), and examined his red-pebble mouth that had stained his grin brown. The boys had carefully covered him with one of their jackets.
“Aren’t you cold?” I asked.
“A little,” they admitted as they tucked their bare fingers into their armpits to warm them up. “But the snowman is warm!”
I didn’t even ask if they had mittens or gloves. I knew they probably didn’t. ‘Prepared for snow’ doesn’t exist in their schema. I have chaperoned multiple ski trips where the students know their destination and activity (a ski resort at 9000 ft. elevation, to ski and snowboard), yet don’t take gloves or mittens.
But the sheer joy on their faces. The knowledge that they could seize the moment and create a snowman even if they hadn’t prepared. The fact that they willingly withstood the cold to do something they delighted in shamed me somehow.
All too often I stubbornly resist moving forward if I feel I have not properly ‘prepared.’ I want to work out every detail. In doing so I deny the doing. Even worse, I let my need to be prepared stifle the spontaneity of the Holy Spirit urging me to speak to someone, perform a random act of kindness, or pray for someone.Don't let your head's determination to be prepared rob your heart of the delight of doing.… Click To Tweet
I feel as if I should have a list of conversational gambits before I speak to a stranger. I want to know the details before I commit to an act of kindness. I feel I should know exactly what I’m praying for before I pray for someone.
Yes, the season of Advent has arrived, when we should prepare our hearts and minds for the second advent whilst celebrating the first advent. But my students reminded me of the joy of simply doing—whether I feel prepared or not.
How about you? Do you ever find that your head’s determination to be prepared robs your heart of the delight of doing?