Lessons Learned from the Snowmageddon

Published: February 18, 2015

LaGuardia Airport announced, “All flights are canceled”. John F. Kennedy International Airport announced, “minimal flight activity.” About three weeks ago, I was trapped in New York City during the “Snowmageddon.” Meteorologist estimated the snowstorm would be the biggest since the 1970’s 25-foot record. In anticipation of Snowmageddon, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio shut down the city.

Sitting inside a warm place on the Upper East Side, I looked out of mysherine_snow window waiting for the blizzard. Hours passed and nothing significant happened. “Surely, the predictions wouldn’t be so far off”, I thought. “The meteorologist predicted at least 25 feet of snow and I see about two feet.” Hours passed and eventually the Governor Cuomo would apologize for the gross miscalculation, and lift the travel restrictions.

Initially, I was a little upset because the miscalculation led to me to drop not one, but two classes, due to attendance issues. However, upon closer reflection, the snowstorm taught me a few things.

  1. Even the best plans do not always work out. When classes began, I made a “perfect schedule”, or at least so I thought. The schedule was the perfect balance between electives and required courses. I reasoned that taking a maximum load would put me on track to early graduation. Currently, this plan has been changed and graduation appears prolonged.
  2. The experts are not always right. The experts are not always right. The experts predicted at least 20 feet of snow, yet not only was there prediction wrong, it was grossly miscalculated. However, the fact is that the experts do not have infinite knowledge. They are trapped in time and space, just as we are. Does this mean that the experts should be discounted? No, but it is always acceptable to challenge them. Are they the author of the universe? Is God male, female, genderqueer, celibate, gay, straight, perfect, and imperfect, omniscient, omnipresent, etc? Aren’t our most thoughtful, articulate, studied answers to questions the product of our imaginations? Scripture says, except for divine revelation, “We see in this glass dimly.” I find the most consolation not in lofty ideas about God, but in concrete experience of my somehow God.
  3. One can have peace in the midst of uncertainty. While stuck in the city something beautiful happened around 6:30 a.m. I walked outside. Light snow was falling and the scene was epic. In the city that never sleeps, all was still. Every now and then, I saw a person walking a dog. Without the hustle and bustle, people were friendly, each of us discussing the absurdity of the situation and where we could find coffee. At 6:30 a.m., I was not sure when the transportation ban would be lifted, or even when I would be able to leave the city. Yet, I realized that I could be at peace. In the stillness of the moment, God was there. Scripture became alive, “I felt the peace that surpassed all understanding.”

blog pic of sherineSherine Thomas
First Year

Sherine is a first-year Master of Divinity student and current Youth Director for Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Winston-Salem, NC.