Sunday, January 25, 2009

snow / mixed blessings

After the big Seattle Snow Storm of 2008, during which I felt anxiety-provokingly trapped, even though I could walk to work and around the neighborhood, and could get rides to suburbs in every direction from Seattle (I made it to Bellevue, Des Moines, and Everett), the sign of anything white falling from the sky causes me a moment of panic. I felt it today as flakes started to swirl out of the sky.

Really, it is an unreasonable panic. I've never not made it home because of the snow. I've never gotten in a snow-related traffic incident. I've never had a snow-caused injury or loss. But panics don't often respond to reason. However, two experiences with snow may sway me towards calm rather than calamity next time the weather drops and water vapor starts freezing together into ice crystals. The first is this beautiful thought from a friend, that snow is the gift of winter. It is as though winter realizes that it has left us all with a lot of darkness and bare branches and so snow comes along, glaringly white, reflecting light, and clinging to the trees. It even urges us outside to play when it is really far to cold to venture out without good cause. The weather of winter solves the problems of winter weather to some extent.

Today came my second awakening to the possible beauty of snow. As I was walking to work, I noticed the flakes falling on my gloves were not just clumps of frozen water, as snow sometimes is. Instead, each flake was the intricate symmetrical structure that inspires us to fold and cut paper into elaborate six-sided creations. Some flakes looked like spiderwebs, some like extravagant Stars of David, some like confetti snowflakes, some like furry moth antennae tied together. Each was beautiful. I stared at my hands the whole trip. I held my hands out and up and expected something to fall into them from above for the first time in ages. I was happy for what I caught, I let go of what I missed, I didn't grieve as each flake melted.

When snow falls next and sticks to the roads, I may still curse it. But after today I will use it also as a reminder of being mindful, of nature's intricacies, of heaven's blessings, of light coming in dark times, of being at peace in one place, of neighbor's sharing space, of strangers helping a passer-by whose car got stuck in the slush.


At 10:13 AM , Blogger tree hugger said...

When it started to snow here yesterday I got that sinking feeling.... oh no! Here it comes again! As if another storm of the same intensity could possibly fall again this year. Thank you for your reminder and meditation on why snow is a gift!


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