as the snow surrounds us all in a sweet silence...

I love this moment in time: the first real snow of the season.  Yes, it will be a bit tricky driving tonight when we join friends for dinner. Sure, it will slow things down re: getting to Sunday worship, too. And, of course it reminds us that next week will be bitterly cold. But that's part of the bargain; with the beauty comes the cost. Besides, worship on the first day after a real snowfall is always exciting as even octogenarians act like little children. 



Parker Palmer put it like this in his "spirituality of the seasons" essay: One gift is beauty, different from the beauty of autumn but somehow lovelier still: I am not sure that any sight or sound on earth is as exquisite as the hushed descent of a sky full of snow.

Two poems evoke my feelings right now as the Berkshire snow intensifies. The first, by Wallace Stevens, is "The Snow Man." It speaks to me of the patient mystery of such a moment, the waiting and even emptiness necessary to see the storm as more than a sloppy nuisance.

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place
For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.


The second, by the equally enigmatic Louise Gluck, is simply called "Snow." It brings me back to similar times with my own children, times long gone, but also a time beyond time that we share even now. There is a sadness here, a tender wisdom, too that reverences love. I rejoice in them both.

Late December: my father and I
are going to New York, to the circus.
He holds me
on his shoulders in the bitter wind:
scraps of white paper
blow over the railroad ties.

My father liked
to stand like this, to hold me
so he couldn't see me.
I remember
staring straight ahead
into the world my father saw;
I was learning
to absorb its emptiness,
the heavy snow
not falling, whirling around us
.


I've just returned from a conversation with one whose beloved partner passed from life to life everlasting unexpectedly last week. There is a paradoxical sense of both shock and the harsh reality of this moment taking place in our hearts. It is fitting, I suppose, that the snow chose now to surround us all in its sweet silence. Let me return thanks to God for life, for death and for life beyond death.

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