I love my job.
Teaching high school has a lot of perks other jobs don’t: I get to meet hundreds of new people every year, get to stay active most of the day, get to read and talk about cool things and have entertaining discussions with weird adolescents, and even get summers (mostly) off. But there is one perk that surpasses them all.
I once asked one of the best teachers at my school why he became a teacher. He has taught me a lot about how to teach literature, which is odd considering the fact that he is a math teacher, and I really respect his opinions on all things education. He didn’t even pause to think when I asked him.
“Snow days, man. They were the best part of my childhood, and there was no way I was giving those up. Snow days.”
Whatever works, I guess.
There’s a lot of reasons snow days are great. One I think we all can appreciate is the anticipation. Watching the weather reports, peeking through the blinds every fifteen minutes, asking everyone you see whether they think we’ll get one or not: it’s almost as good as the day itself. But, of course, it’s not.
Every time school gets cancelled, it’s like getting a little piece of your life back. There’s twenty-four hours just sitting there, waiting to be filled with whatever you darn-well please. It’s just plain beautiful.
We got about ten inches here in Kansas last Thursday, and that earned us two days off in a row. That created a four-day weekend in the middle of February, which is without a doubt the worst month of school every year (everyone’s just cranky and there’s no real breaks in the near future).
Who says God doesn’t answer prayers?
While I did get some work done, the best part of the long weekend was the time spent watching our newly acquired “Parenthood: Season One” dvd’s with my wife, sipping coffee and watching our little girl play and chatter on the floor. I distinctly remember thinking to myself, “I need days like this more often.”
Then I felt a little silly.
I don’t know about you, but my wife and I are terrible about observing the Sabbath. We always go to Mass, sure, but we often spend a lot of the rest of the day doing chores we didn’t get around to or preparing for the work week. Sometimes they end up being some of the most stressful days we have.
But there’s a reason God blessed us with the Sabbath. We need it. We need a chance to just be with the people we love, to remember why we go to work every day or why we like keeping the house clean or why we like our routines during the week. We do all of that so that we can have moments like my wife and I had on Thursday and Friday.
We often confuse the ends and the means.
For my wife and I, it’s a matter of commitment. We just don’t make it a priority. We always love it when we have family events or parties with friends on Sundays and are forced to put aside the chores and schoolwork. If only we could do that when it’s just us.
God wants us to have the snow-day excitement every week. He wants us to have twenty-four hours of possibility, twenty-four hours of space, twenty-four hours for persons instead of tasks. We need it.
Earlier tonight, my wife looked at me and said, “Hey, we haven’t fought in a while!” Don’t judge us; sometimes being married is hard and conflict happens (maybe more often than we’d like to admit). But I think we got along so well because we got a chance to see the real other, that whatever-it-is in each other that inspired us to commit our lives to one another in the first place. It’s easy to have a day or two or six slip by without stopping to see that; there’s a lot to do when you’re a couple of working parents.
But I am reminded, again, how God’s “rules” are really what I want in the first place. How the command to honor the Sabbath is really a command to be happy. How all of His commandments are what really set us free to live the lives we want. They’re what allow us to be human-freaking-beings, complex individuals who need help sifting through the mess of this world to find each other and the beauty that lives within each of us.
I just need to listen, and trust.