Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

What I Have Seen And Heard

By MOST REVEREND WILTON D. GREGORY | Published January 20, 2012

For six years I have been warned by many of you of what a serious and crippling impact too much snow and ice can have on us in North Georgia. But as a native-born Chicagoan who had lived through many previous significant snow events in my life (including the January 1967 Chicago record snowfall of 23 inches in 30 hours during my sophomore year in college seminary), I took those warnings with a grain of salt.

I am now a firm believer!

Like most of you, I was trapped at home for the better part of four days with last week’s snowfall. But that downtime also was a blessing since it allowed me to attend to a number of things that might not have gotten done without this unscheduled break. Above all, it provided time to think and pray more and to realize once more that all of our plans are completely at God’s disposal.

The public review of how metro Atlanta (or even North Georgia) handled this snow and ice event will go on for the next few weeks with lots of opportunities to evaluate how we responded and how we can be better prepared the next time. Nonetheless in the end, even with the best preparation, the forces of nature and the power of nature’s Lord will always be able to overtake our meager human capacity to withstand such a forceful event. After all, even communities that are accustomed to such severe weather occasionally find themselves overwhelmed by certain unusually powerful episodes.

Our experience of nature should provide all of us opportunities to reflect on God’s power and supremacy in all of our lives. Only several years ago, we faced a critical drought, and just over a year ago we faced severe flooding. We have experienced a number of occasions where we were forced to realize our human limitations in response to God’s power and authority in nature. We have been given several opportunities to prayerfully consider how our lifestyles may perhaps be damaging to the environment and how we should respond.

One of the canticles that the Liturgy of the Hours frequently presents for prayer is the one dedicated to Daniel the Prophet. The three young men who had been thrown into the fiery furnace offered a prayer of praise to God from all of creation.

“Ice and snow bless the Lord,” the canticle proposes, reminding us that everything in nature has a purpose and reflects God’s generous design.

It might have been difficult for most of us last week to see just how snow and ice were reflections of God’s goodness as we sat confined to our homes and fast running out of some of the things that we might have needed or desired. Yet even in those difficult moments God was offering us opportunities to see His hand at work in our lives—if we had but the courage and the insight to discover them.

One of my staff members commented to me that she was surprised to read that the crime statistics for our community had dropped so drastically during this past week. Even those who might have intended to do us harm were stymied in their plans by the weather.

I’m glad that our inconvenience is now over and we can go about our normal lives. I just pray that we won’t forget even those moments of inconvenience and perhaps hardship, that we praise God that we survived them and that we praise Him even more for all that He does to draw us closer to Him and to one another.