Faith Matters: An Easter miracle after 1970 snowstorm

By THE REV. VICKI IX

Vicar, St. John’s Episcopal Church

Published: 03-24-2023 7:03 PM

It happened in 1970. A huge, unexpected snowstorm hit the New York metropolitan area on March 29 — Easter Sunday. The storm was so big and powerful, it dumped 2 or 3 feet of snow in the New Jersey suburbs. All the winter snow equipment had been put away in anticipation of spring. No town was prepared. (Sound familiar?)

I was 6. My big sister was 9 and my little brother was 5. We were going to go to church and then to my grandparents for an Easter egg hunt. I remember this so clearly — like a Super 8 movie reel. We could not go to church and it was Easter Sunday! The snow was wet and heavy. All the little blooms of spring lay buried under a big, wet blanket. The tulips and forsythia were nowhere to be seen. My mind slowly took in the reality. How would we ever find all the Easter eggs? Wouldn’t they be frozen solid anyway? Wait a minute … if we can’t get to church, how will we get to my grandparents’ house? Just as the three of us children were about to despair, my Dad had an idea.

Clothed in his shearling jacket and the boots he wore as a volunteer fireman, my Dad put me on his shoulders and began to walk. My grandparents lived about half a mile away, up two hills and on the right. They were big hills so the walking was more like a slow march. Each step meant a deep sink and pull, his knees lifting his snow-covered boots up and down. I don’t remember how long it took him to make three round trips. I just remember my ride — our time alone. I remember holding onto his forehead and his hands on my ankles. I remember the crunch, crunch of his boots in the pristine powder and the sun shining on all of it. When we got to my grandparents’ house, there was news of an Easter miracle. The Easter Bunny must have known about the blizzard. We could see brightly colored ovals all over the mountain behind his house. The hunt was on!

This snowstorm stands out in a lifetime of storms not for its record-breaking accumulation, but because of my Dad. I know there are times in every parent’s life when they feel like they failed or missed an opportunity to get something right. It’s easy to forget the moments when you really scored and made your child feel loved beyond measure. These are the moments when children grow in their understanding of God. One by one he loaded us on his shoulders like little lambs. The tenderness of the gesture overwhelms me still. He was my Good Shepherd that day — and every day thereafter.

So, where did God show up in the great snowstorm of March 2023? Who embodied God’s love for you? Was there a moment when your child felt especially safe in your care? Did you tend the fire through the night? Did you camp out together with candles and lanterns? Did you offer food to a neighbor?

Big storms are often referred to as “an act of God.” I prefer to think of it as weather impacted by the climate crisis. But God shows up! And we never forget the glimpses we get of love-made-flesh in the blizzard.

St. John’s Episcopal Church in Ashfield is a small, vibrant congregation committed to God’s mission of love and justice. Join the Sunday service at 10 a.m. in person and online. Find out more at stjohnsashfield.org.

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