I have this thing about snowplows. I like them. I especially like them when I’m in my cozy little house and I hear one rumbling down the street. Sometimes I even go to the window just to watch it go by.
As most of you know, I live in Chardon, Ohio, in the snowbelt of northeast Ohio. Some say Chardon is the buckle of the snowbelt. Our heavy snows are due to two factors: our altitude and Lake Erie. Chardon, at an altitude of 1,299 feet, is at the extreme western edge of the Appalacian plateau. Go just 30 miles east to Cleveland and the altitude drops to 791 feet. That 500 feet can make a difference in snow levels. But Chardon’s proximity and angle to Lake Erie is the chief culprit for our heavy snowfalls. We get the so-called “lake effect” snow. When the winds blow from the west and north, they pick up the moisture from Lake Erie (if it’s not frozen yet) and dump heavy snows upon us. If Cleveland gets 5 inches, Chardon gets 12 inches. If Cleveland gets 12 inches, Chardon gets 22. You get the idea.
We Chardonites take pride in our heavy snow. I guess we think it builds character. It certainly gives us bragging rights. I still tell people about the time I was living in Detroit in the mid-90’s and my little town of Chardon was featured on the national news. The national news. It seems Chardon had gotten 67 inches of snow in three days. They showed clips of a man walking on the flat roof of a building using his snow blower. The sight made me homesick.
But back to snowplows. Why do I like them so much? First of all, they clear the roads making it possible for us to travel with greater ease and greater safety. The big trucks plow any time of day or night—whether I’m awake or sleeping. I like being in bed at night or in the early morning and hearing a snowplow rumbling down the street. They do rumble. Sometimes they even shake the house a little. What power! The very sound of them and their yellow flashing lights make me feel safe, tended to, cared for. Aren’t those some of the same words I use when I think of God’s love for me? Maybe snowplows tap into that deep primordial longing of my soul to be watched over. Who knows?
Maybe I also like snowplows because my nephew John Svoboda sells and services them at his welding and fabricating shop in downtown Chardon. Needless to say, he’s happy when it snows, for it often means more business for him. So maybe this snowplow thing has a familial/genetic component. Again, who knows?
When I taught high school religion, I sometimes had students rewrite Psalm 23 (“The Lord is my shepherd”) using a different image. For example, the Lord is my coach, my best friend, my doctor, my dog. It may sound silly at first, but I think it was effective. So here’s a psalm I’ve written called “The Lord is My Snowplow Driver.”
The Lord is my Snowplow Driver, nothing shall I fear.
Though a foot of snow covers the road,
my Snowplow Driver will clear a path for me.
Even though ice makes my road seem impassible,
My Snowplow Driver will spread an ice-melter,
turning the treacherous ice into harmless water.
At night I rest securely
knowing my Snowplow Driver is on guard, on duty,
watching over the road I will take.
Even though in life I must travel through deep snows
or on slick ice, I fear no harm,
for You, my Snowplow Driver, go before me clearing my way. Amen.
NOTE: I have written the Catholic Update for Lent this year for Franciscan Media. The 8 1/2 in. by 11 in. 4-page booklet, entitled “Finding Our Way Again,” contains a brief reflection for every day of Lent based on the Mass readings of the day. It costs 75 cents each, but discounts are given on larger orders. For example, 10-99 copies are 49 cents each, 100-199 copies are 39 cents each, etc. You can order it at FranciscanMedia.org or by calling 800-488-0488. Thank you for considering this for your Lenten prayer.
NOTE #2: Next week I will share the results of the survey I gave on this blog.