I was 10 years old when I saw my first flakes of snow. My father’s work had transferred our family from humid, tropical South Texas to the harsh, cold winters of Philadelphia.
As those bits of crystalline magic fell from the sky, I was in awe. How could God create such a miraculous thing?
Those winters in the early 1960s when I was a child were filled with blizzards. Mounds of snow blocked the front door, drifted into the corners of the windows panes, and outside, my brothers, sisters and I created snow forts and mazes.
My mother bundled us in snowsuits that made us look like aliens or Robby the Robot. After awhile she would call us inside, and even though we could no longer feel our toes, fingers or faces, we begged to play a little more. We laughed. We had fun. We couldn’t get enough of the white stuff.
Now, we are in the midst of a northeast blizzard wailing outside my window. And I’m wondering where that little girl went, the one who loved snow, who couldn’t wait to build snowmen and snow forts.
By the time you are reading this, hopefully the snow has departed and out to sea. But while in it this moment, I look out at tree limbs bending in mercy to the winds and walls of white whipping by in sheets. The distant landscape is a muddled blur, with only vague silhouettes of houses or hills poking through the blinding haze.
I am thankful to be inside, with warmth and food, praying for those who have to be at the mercy of this weather. Those who must be outside because of work or emergency services.
I am also thankful for snow as a spiritual teacher.
Snow is God’s way of making me slow down. To stop. Snow doesn’t care about my to-do list or where I have to be. It only invites me to be with it, in the present moment. Snow forces me to stop doing. When the snow is deep, I can’t drive around for errands, can’t be about my busy schedule.
I am inside, cocooned and stilled.
As a spiritual teacher, snow invites a silence that I believe we all need and crave. It makes of the world a hushed, contemplative space — a monastery of the heart — where we can truly listen to the Divine. In that stillness, we have the opportunity to truly connect with the essence of our soul.
We also may discover the gift of nurturing ourselves when we otherwise might not. Reading a good book. Curling up with a blanket and the dog. Mindless daydreaming. Naps. All can be savored as snow falls outside.
Snow also shows us beauty, blanketing the world in a soft, shimmering white. And light. That light reveals to us the beauty of God and reminds us, on a deep level, how much we yearn in our being for that light and beauty.
As snow drifts down in lazy flakes, we can also be reminded how it is like God’s grace, covering everything. Nothing is left untouched. Snow makes rough edges, smooth, and makes beautiful those objects we consider ugly. And it falls on everyone and everything.
There also will be time for play, for re-connecting with that young girl who once loved snow.
Crunching through it on a walk. Savoring the clean, bright purity of a world made new around me.
But for now, as the snow continues to fall, I am called to Sabbath time. A day of rest. Listening. Being. A gift from God.