Before 9 am yesterday morning (Jan. 28), I listened to weather reports and checked e-mail from both of my workplaces, Georgia Perimeter College and Georgia Piedmont Technical College. I was puzzled that the campuses had not been closed. Looking outside at the ghost-grey clouds blanketing the sky, it appeared snowfall was no less than a couple hours away. Given that my partner, Monica, and I live in a neighborhood atop Blackjack Hill in Cobb County, my instincts warned me against heading into work. I then e-mailed my supervisors at both campuses explaining both the weather forecast and the likelihood that streets on my return trip home would become impassable. My plan was to remain at home all day working on my computational biology research as long as there was electricity to power my desktop. The absence of official campus closings was irrelevant to my decision — rather I followed my own knowledge and intuition about possible dangers from the weather.
By 11 am, the first snowflakes fell on Blackjack Hill and I gingerly drove down to the nearby Kroger a mile-and-a-half away to pick up milk and bread. I was back at the house by 11:30 and the snow was falling more thickly. Monica called at noon telling me her employer was letting her come home. As she is safety-conscious like myself, she immediately took to I-75 northbound while I watched the highway map on http://www.511ga.org. To my dismay, I-75 morphed from yellow to dried-blood-red over the next fifteen minutes as I gave Monica travel updates over the phone. Over an hour later, Monica made it to the street crossing at the base of Blackjack Hill, where slick snow and stopped cars did not allow her to go further. Monica parked along the curb of a side street as I walked down the hill to escort her up to the house.
That evening and this morning, we learned our snowy adventure was pleasant in comparison to the experiences of many of our friends, neighbors, and acquaintances in the Atlanta area. Women and men have been trapped on interstates and surface streets for as much as 15 hours or longer. Worse yet, schoolchildren have been stranded overnight in icebound school buses without food, water, restrooms, or heat. The suffering resulting from this late January snow, not an unexpected event, could have been averted by extensive school and workplace closings early in the morning on January 28. Instead, government and business leaders disregarded the dangers posed by a mid-day, mid-week snow capable of glazing the roads with ice. The indifferent attitudes of leadership, with their lack of planning for dangerous situations, is an example of hubris, an extreme form of pride, the deadliest of deadly sins. Aggravating the situation, many of the ordinary, working people of Atlanta seem to lack a sufficient sense of connection to the natural world to plan ahead for dangerous weather situations. Perhaps calling out of work or keeping one’s children home from school was not an option for many people. Yet, the worst-case scenario of not showing up to work or school, getting fired or failing a test, is nowhere near as bad as death from a car accident or hypothermia.
This afternoon, Monica and I hiked down the slick hill to check on her car. Many of our neighbors were out, along with a few individuals stranded far from home who found hospitality in our neighborhood. Despite the bad decisions made by persons in authority and working-folk, I could not help but reach out with love to all the people we saw on the walk down to the car. Monica and I waved, smiled, and chatted with many people — for the hardships presented by the snow and ice made our neighborhood a community. I regret not going out earlier in the morning to search for persons in need of food, water, or shelter. Yet, the Goddess has only begun shaping and attuning me to her active and generous love. The inner sense of physical safety which led me to stay home yesterday may have resulted from the workings of the Divine Feminine in my life. As climate change is expected to bring weather events more extreme than this week’s snow, I must go beyond providing for my own safety and be able to build up the well-being of others amid the brute power of Nature.
Back at the house after surveying our snowed-in neighborhood, I recited one of my afternoon prayers asking Goddess for our continued safety and our ability to show Her love to other people. A particular stanza stayed on my heart:
Empower us to share with everyone we meet your joy and your abundance. We love you, trust you, and depend upon your Love’s Right Hand, for whom we give our thanks!