Friday, February 5, 2010

Igloo in the Road

I get this question a lot. In fact, I can almost bet it's the second or third question when someone finds out we're going to Burma, kids and all. It's not always exactly the same, but it invariably is accompanied by the raised eyebrow, the not-so-subtle body language that says "Really?"

"Is it safe?"

"Aren't you worried about the girls?"

Last weekend the girls and I played out in the snow for a couple of hours. MeiLin, ever the project and goal-oriented girl, set her heart on building an igloo with these great, plastic block-scoops. You scoop up the snow, pack it in and turn the form upside to create perfect snow blocks. Maiya spent most of her time sitting in the igloo while MeiLin and I built--MeiLin is her father's daughter.

The snow was light and fluffy, fragile. Over an hour, we were able to build a tenuous tower of snow, ever taller, eventually topping even my six-foot height. The girls, of course, were ready to spend the night in their new igloo, build more, add a roof, attic, windows, doors. Problem was, we built it in the road.

"Is it safe?"

"Aren't you worried about the girls?"

I don't know. We think we're safe in our neighborhood, safe enough to play in the snow in the middle of the street. Safe enough to walk to school. Safe enough to drive around town. Safe enough to bike to work. Everyday we buy into this false sense of control and security. I convince myself that nothing is going to happen, that I can control the outcome of today because of the choices I make.

Put on your seat belt, and you're safe. Wash your hands, and you're safe. Look both ways before you cross, and you're safe.

Trouble is, the world around us, the daily news bear witness to the light, fluffy and fragile igloo of our daily lives. Earthquakes. House fires. Accidents. Sickness. Tragedy. The violence of man. The igloo eventually melts. The walls slowly collapse and the igloo disappears. "For what is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."

Our igloo? It lasted a lot longer than I thought it would, considering its location. I gotta tell you, as a guy, it's awfully tempting to blast through it when you're driving the car. But, surprisingly, no one did. The igloo slowly twisted and collapsed part way, still standing, struggling to hold on to its form. It eventually disappeared into the snow bank on the side of the road.

It's snowing again, and this weekend promises a snow storm of historic proportions, possibly the biggest in the Washington DC region. Time to build another igloo, even if we know it will just disappear. "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this..."