One thing that defined this year’s long Indiana winter for our family was a snow castle I built for my son.  For a Southern California kid, this was an architectural masterwork.
 
After the first snow I shoveled all the snow from our driveway on to the grass and shaped it into a bit of a fort. When that melted, I decided that a smaller structure, closer to the house would be better and piled all subsequent snow near our front door.  I shaped it with the shovel.  I filled a bucket with snow to make bricks and put those on the walls.

 Snow_1
The fort was big enough for Isaiah to hide behind. We threw snowballs at each other. I taught him to stockpile snowballs and hide behind his castle. He liked to hide from his mama and me behind it. 
 
After every snowfall, I cleared our whole driveway by pushing the snow all the way back.  The walls grew so that he didn’t even have to crouch down to be hidden behind it. 
We use a university owned house a few doors down as our Community Center for our area.  Snow_2Isaiah and I took several trips there to collect icicles. Though he enjoyed breaking them, we pushed most of them into the walls of the castle to make spikes. 
University facilities services workers had used a tractor to push all the snow from the parking lot into a large pile across the street from our house.  As the temperature fluctuated and the pile grew, it turned into a pile of huge chunks of snow/ice.  I walked across the street numerous times and carried ice boulders over to the castle to fortify the walls. snow_6
After several more snowy days and nights of shoveling (including one night in which I shoveled snow after midnight), the castle needed to be dug out again.  I was thinking of adding stairs and making it a two story structure, but Candice beat me to it while I was gone for the day at work.  I shaped the stairs a little more and filled out the second story when I got back. Now it was big enough for him to climb up the stairs, throw snowballs down from the second story, or jump over the side and slide down.  It was big enough for me to hide behind if I just hunched down a little bit. 
I continued to harvest icicles every time I walked past our community center.  They formed some very medieval looking defensive spikes surrounding the second story portion of the castle. 
 
When the castle was at the pinnacle of its renovations, I was playing with Isaiah outside and encouraging him to throw snowballs at me from the top and slide down the sides.
He got up the stairs, and leaned over, and started hitting the icicles with his hands to break them off! 
 
Immediately I got a bit anxious.  I gently asked him not to break his castle.  I explained to him that the icicles were supposed to be there and if he wanted to smash some ice we could go gather some new ones. I opened the front door and recounted the story to Candice.  She asked,

Snow_5

“Did you tell him it was your castle and not his?”

And we both laughed.
 We both laughed because we knew the truth in what she said.
I’ve been saying it’s his castle, but I love it as my own little baby.  I’ve put the blood, sweat, and tears into forming it from nothing.
Of course it’s his. I made it for him. He played in and around it more than I could.  He can go up the stairs without wrecking them (he weighs a little less than I do).  The slide is a slide for him, I delight in the joy he shows when he plays in it. 
 Snow_3But I’ve put so much time and effort into it that I care quite a bit about what happens to it. I smiled and responded,
“Oh, it’s his.  …I just want him to play in it right.”
 
…then I paused and a thought came to me:
I wonder how God feels.
 
 
He made everything.  He made the world we live in and he created our very being, body and soul.  He crafted the unimaginable splendor of the heavens and earth.  Out of his sovereignty, He orchestrates circumstances and answers prayers. He keeps us safe and heals our afflictions.  He has given us everything. And, it’s ours.  He has given freely. 
 
He has given us some guidelines and suggestions and he longs for us to use it as he intends.
And often, my first impulse is to break all the icicles.
 
I squander the gifts I’ve been given.  Sometimes I simply ignore the glory all around me, which may be worse.
 
The scope of God’s creative work is much greater than my work on a snow castle (especially when we realize that God was the one who gave me the snow to work with in the first place). 
My destructiveness is often more harmful than Isaiah’s. 
 
Obviously, I still love Isaiah even if he enjoys destroying snow castles.
And I am convinced of the theological truth that my Heavenly Father still loves me, no matter how much I destroy the things he provides for me. But this thought as given me a bit of a pause over the last few weeks.
I wonder how God feels.
It has given me a hint of another perspective as I go through my day and interact with the world around me.  This thought has been a welcome reminder as I see beauty and utilize his good gifts. 

 
Maybe someday I’ll learn how to play right

 

 

 

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2 Responses to Breaking My Snow Castle

  1. Alexandra says:

    Awesome post yet again Jared! I’m guilty of breaking icicles… Sidenote, You and Candice make me feel like a lazy parent since my whole extent of snow play was bundling Faith up and watching her make snow angels for 10 mins at a time…if that.

  2. Melissa Sprock says:

    Cool pics and great story. Thanks for sharing. I love that you were “all in.” Fully present to the castle and “owning it” with Isaiah. It reminds me of the verse that mentions us as “co-creators.” I hope the spring affords as much fun!

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