The Blizzard of 1977- Pastor David Cassidy


by David Cassidy, Christ Community Church, Franklin

The forecast called for serious preparations – milk, bread, and toilet paper would be critical to survival, or so they said. Personally, I’m pretty much convinced that coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are the most needed in a snow event. And eggs. You can’t make cake without eggs.

It’s not possible for me to enter into the frazzled fun of impending snowpocalypse forecasts without recalling the blizzard of ’77. I was a north central Indiana boy of 17, far more worried about basketball games being cancelled than I was about food and fuel supplies. Oh, and the thought of being snowed in for several days with my siblings… well, that sounded a bit like Federal Prison at the time. There was no stopping that storm though. Over 26 inches of snow and 60 mph winds combined to bury not only the roads but houses. We went to bed to the sound of howling winter winds and awoke to snow drifts piled up past our doors and up to the gutters. That’s a whole new level of ‘snowed in’.

The National Guard had already come to collect my mom, an ER nurse, for what would end up being a three day shift at Howard County Hospital. My dad and I began the tenuous process of digging out by opening the front door and allowing some packed snow to fall into the entry way. We climbed through an opening at the top of the doorway and out onto a frozen landscape that would’ve made Vince Lombardi shiver. The cars in our driveway had disappeared, along with fence lines and most every boundary marker one might’ve been used to seeing.

We grabbed some bamboo poles from the garage (why we had bamboo poles is a mystery that remains unsolved to this day), and scrambling along the surface of the snow we gently pushed the poles through it until we met with a muffled ‘clunk’ as a pole struck a car. From that spot we began to dig down and uncover the submerged vehicles. This was not done quickly, or easily. It felt like we were tunnelers in a World War Two escape movie. Astonishingly, both cars started right up. It was three full days before the snow had cleared enough for anything like normal life to begin again. But we had wood for the fireplace and enough frozen food to get an astronaut to the moon and back. I walked to my friends houses over the fence lines for several weeks, the most popular guys being the ones who owned the snowmobiles.

The storm that’s creating havoc out east this weekend sounds like ‘77 all over again. Here,we escaped with, what, seven to nine inches? It was as beautiful as it was blustery, the snow a sparkling frosting on our January memories. Of course if you had a fender bender or your power went out then the memories of the storm aren’t especially lovely. Still, I hope everyone had adequate hot chocolate for the weekend.

There’s a softly spectacular covering that a fresh blanketing of snow provides. It hides the cracks and obscures the boundaries. It insists that we stop and rest, forcing a sabbath upon us. That, and so much more, is what Scripture envisions when it records God summoning his people to “Come, let us reason together… though your sins be like scarlet, they shall be white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). We need our scarlet places, glowing with the pain we’ve created for ourselves and others, to be wiped cleaned. We need the slowness of pace the powerful hand of God creates when he says, ‘Rest here… just stop’. We can’t cover our sins, and no amount of labor by us can restore us. Sometimes, a heavy snow is the only thing that will do. When it comes to sin, grace most assuredly is the only thing that will do. I hope the winds of the Spirit whip up some big drifts of grace in your life today.

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