“He scatters the snow like birds flying down,
The eye is dazzled by the beauty of its whiteness, and the mind is amazed as it falls.”
— Sirach 43:17c,18
by Lexiann Grant
For many people, snow is disliked, dreaded, even feared. But for me it is God’s most miraculous creation.
As a child, I couldn’t wait to get outside and wallow in it. My mother would bundle me into layer upon layer of clothing to protect me from the chill. But once out of her sight, I removed most of the bulky insulation that separated me from snow. I rolled in it, threw it skywards letting it fall back over me, I licked it, ate it, rubbed it on my face. I longed to be part of the snow.
Decades later my view has not changed. I mostly behave the same way when it snows. The difference is that I now recognize snow as mystical, a connection to the holy, an opportunity to enjoy it as an anointing from God, each flake a blessing floating down from heaven. And, as an outward and physical sign of an inward and spiritual grace, the flakes, like blessings, disappear quickly if we do not appreciate and experience them fully.
With few exceptions, snow has been present on my life’s hardest, worst, days, even in May. Surgeries, court dates, moves, losses, God sent snow to remind me that everything is as it should be or that all would be brought right in his time.
Two separate winters, in areas where snow was infrequent and brief, I lived alone under extremely stress-filled conditions, including repeated break-in attempts. Yet snow came to surround and protect me. The snow on the ground prevented intruders from getting to the house without being detected.
Snow has been a part of many of my happiest days as well: childhood Christmases, falling in love; romping with soulmate dogs; sledding with friends; learning to ski, and, living near where I can do so frequently.
Once when skiing too fast, I’m fairly sure I saw God standing in an off-camber turn on the slope. He was dressed in lederhosen, embroidered shirt, wearing a Tyrolean hat with a large feather and holding a Bavarian style pipe. With the other hand he was waving at me. I was so startled I slowed down, and turned where otherwise I might have wrecked. When I looked back over my shoulder, the Alpine man was nowhere in sight.
Snow blindness? Or simple human nature that so often misses what goodness is enfolding in front of us, especially a split-second encounter with the divine?
Outside, I observe deer leisurely foraging beneath the snow for food. The frosty woods are vibrant with birds, squirrels and larger wildlife. The earth our God has created provides for the animals.
“Oh, happy the snowbirds I see,
While hopping and flitting they go,
They tell of a lesson to me,
While feeding in beautiful snow;
Snow, snow, snow,…”
Why don’t we live and trust that God does the same for us? Why do we so often fail to find the good hidden in the difficult, the painful, the feared?
Years ago I was diagnosed with problems that cost me the ability to work. But this same illness has provided me with, among other things, the time to enjoy the snow when I have the energy. Do I apply this to all of my life? No. None of us can or do all the time, or maybe even the majority of the time.
This global pandemic has put us in a position where we have to actively seek small spaces of good or settle into misery. Our challenge during this prolonged period of hardship and suffering becomes to find the glimmer of Christ’s peace amidst the dreadful.
Wherever you spend most of your waking time, glimpse out a window. What element of creation do you experience as mystical? In what environment do you feel God?
If it’s snow, put on your hat, coat, gloves and boots and get out there! If you can’t be where it is, browse snow pictures online. If it’s not snow, look for God on a river walk, lake water lapping the shore, the tides changing, sun on dessert sand, or shadows of rock-crowned mountains.
If you’re in an urban setting, can you meet the holy looking at a view of beautiful architecture or churches (particularly if they’re adorned with snow)? Children and dogs in a park? Cheerful decorations on neighbors’ terraces? Perhaps in a community living facility, you can find God’s presence in the landscaping and small creatures outside the window.
Maybe you have photo albums you can peruse of places that once brought you closer to God and can do so again through memories. Or try viewing the beauty of God’s good world through webcams.
Hum the tune to Silently Falling Snow. Feel it’s lyrics:
“How spotless it seems, and how pure,
I would that my spirit were so!
Then, long as the soul shall endure,
More brightly I’d shine than the snow;
Snow, snow, snow,”
— Wm. Orland Bourne, 1881, Silently Falling Snow
May this winter bring you unexpected blessings.
“We could say more but could never say enough;
let the final word be: ‘He is the all.’
Many things greater than these lie hidden,
for I have seen but few of his works.
For the Lord has made all things,”
— Sirach 43:27a, 32-33a
Lexiann Grant is a retired writer & author, a former chalicer and layreader, but still an Episcopalian who enjoys encountering God in the mountain backcountry.