Catholics believe that everything that exists that is not God—that is, all creatures—are not the source of their own existence. The entirety of what a creature is has been given by another, thereby justifying the claim that everything we have, including ourselves, is a gift. And as a gift, it is meant to eventually be freely and joyfully given away. The spiritual lesson to glean from this teaching is that everything must be had with a mixture of detachment and attachment, for while God gives us everything freely, all is meant to be received with reference to God, the Giver, and given back to him. Created in his image, we are called to be like him as givers, never clinging to what we possess. But how often we forget this! Thankfully, God sends us reminders (signs) every now and then—sometimes through the weather.
Texas likes to boast of its exceptionality, and its weather fits that boast. But recently, Texas faced an unprecedented winter storm and freeze, which precipitated a statewide disaster. Because the electricity supply suffered a major hit, millions of people were left without electricity and heat—and then no water or contaminated water—for many days. Residential and commercial buildings were ill-equipped for the long cold, particularly the water pipes; despite the many precautions people took to prevent freezing, pipes still froze and then burst. I was one of these people who awoke one morning to learn that our shower and toilet did not work. I felt like Damocles with a sword hanging above me by a single hair.
Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, I am used to the cold. And my wife is from frigid north Poland, so we’re no weather greenhorns. While we were surprised by just how unprepared Texans were, we were not worried about enduring the chilling cold. What worried me most was the prospect of bursting pipes. The picture of a flooded apartment was frightening.