Coloradans are well aware of the freak snowstorms that can (and will) bombard our state overnight. It might be 65 during the day, but in that time from March to May, you have to be prepared for any sudden change in the weather–snow, hail, flood, sunshine, or all four.
As my sister puts it, this particular storm was one of those Hollywood snows—where the flakes are super massive from the excess moisture and warm temperature of the air. Those Hollywood flakes are rather wet themselves, and because of that (and because of their vast numbers), trees were weighed down to their limit.
I’m sure many of my neighbors awoke the next morning and looked with dismay at the carnage reaped upon their yards. Their lilac bushes just looked pathetic, broad leaves and blossoms encumbered underneath the snow. Several trees in the neighborhood lost their branches entirely, severity of the loss dependent upon chance. Young aspens were most at risk. Their characteristically pliable trunks (a great advantage most of the time) became their doom and in many cases—they were snapped in two, a complete fatality.
But I wonder if any of my neighbors were like me. When they looked out the backyard window, saw the trees limp and forlorn—did they strap on their boots, snag a coat, and in their oversized cotton sweatpants, trudge into the flurry? Because I did.
In order to understand why I did this; I suppose you have to look to my childhood. When I was younger, I was enchanted with nature. I was the kid who watched Animal Planet at nauseum, the one who always brought a different stuffed animal to church (with an unique name for each one, i.e. Calico the tiger). I dutifully read books about big cats or giant squid, pretended to be a big cat or giant squid (not an easy task, but then again, I had a very active imagination). And at one point, I created artist renderings of my favorite dog breeds and taped them to my bedroom wall for all to admire (full disclosure: I traced most of them from my sister’s dog breed encyclopedia). Most kids set up lemonade stands in their grandparent’s driveway. I set up a “Save the Wildlife” petition—complete with realistic props and info cards to take home (My grandma was the only one to sign the petition…I blame the lack of signatures on choosing plastic snakes as my main prop. I should’ve gone with something cuter. Or maybe it was because I couldn’t spell petition.).
I went to horseback riding competitions, owned guinea pigs and beta fish, glared at the kids who tapped on the glass (I still do that), and to this day carry a strong affinity for protecting, respecting, and admiring nature. In my view, nature is innocence—uncorrupted and following God’s guidelines and laws in its own way.
Therefore, when I saw the trees in their miserable state, the nature-lover within me cried out. I went out there, on an impulse, and started shaking off the snow to ease their burden. I rammed my body into their trunks (ask me about my bruises), snow tumbling upon my head, in order to help the branches up top. Free from the heavy snow, the trees perked up and were saved from breaking completely.
As I did all this, I was talking to the trees. In comforting tones, I told them it was alright, I was here to help, and that they would be okay. I probably looked insane. But while I swept away snow, cheeks flushed from the cold, hair equal parts wet and frozen, a thought occurred to me.
Is this what God had in mind when he deemed us good stewards of creation?
Aren’t we supposed to cultivate and aide the wide world we’ve been set within? I don’t recall God telling us to dominate and conquer—no, he asks us to love, cherish, and lift up those burdened down.
He instilled within mankind the capacity to exact the greatest good, but also the greatest evil. I also believe he instilled within us the capacity to be neutral, to be bystanders, to be complacent. I think a lot of us are neutral beings.
I’m not saying you should all run out in the middle of the next snowstorm and fervently shake snow off of trees.
What I am saying is I’m certain that my efforts saved our trees. I’m certain I was not a neutral being in that moment, because the deed I did, did some good.
When we reach out to help those who are suffering, there is a result—though it may not be as visible as a properly vertical tree. When we sacrifice our bodies, our time, our sanity, we can impart good. Granted, there are some burdens of snow we as amateur mortals cannot reach or shake off—but what we can reach, we ought to reach. To me, being a good steward of creation—that includes trees, plants, fungi, animals, and people—is the trying, is the reaching, and is cooing words of comfort.
I guess what I am saying is, next time you see a plight of creation, in whatever form that may be—don’t cluck your tongue, shake your head, and turn away from the window. Instead, grab your coat, rush outside, and offer yourself as a good steward of God.