What is it about snow falling?

What is it about falling snow that captivates the imagination like nothing else I know?  What is it about the first snowfall of the season- and the next and then the next that just creates a feeling of contentment and joy?  That fills a heart with gladness.  What is it about falling snow that just puts one in the mood for a seasonal celebration?

What is it about falling snow?

I think I know.  Because it certainly set the mood for our annual family Christmas decorating bonanza, brimming box upon box drug up the narrow cellar steps and then heaved across the worn kitchen floorboards to the eagerly waiting crew.  A flurry of fine dust particles and loose greenery settling on every inch of available floor space.  And then some.   Squeals of delight as a lost treasure or two is rediscovered.  The boughs hung with great care by the fireplace, anchored on either side by solemn brass candlesticks scavenged from a relative’s home in one of those years already gone by.  Back when there was little to none to decorate a humble home with.  The music playing on in the background while I sneak sips of eggnog and chocolate covered pretzels in between chores, hoping the Littles won’t notice.  Trying to get my second wind.

And then we all notice it- falling snow.

Gentle, steady- a work of marvelous wonder falling from the sky.  Exquisite.  Delicate.  Tiny- things of beauty.  What is it about snow falling?  Calling to us- beckoning an invitation to us that we ‘come’.

And come we do.  The Children run out of the house with snow pants too big or too little, and all the other essentials (Oh! with maybe a missing item or two, but who really cares?).  It’s snowing!  There are snowflakes to catch on curled tongues.  There are snow women to make, sleds to dust off and wreaths to hang.  There is fresh air to inhale deeply.  And evergreen boughs to cut.  There are kittens to watch, pouncing and crouching- hidden in the tracks made by excited girls as they pull each other along through that sticky, fresh stuff.  There are sled rides to take behind Daddy’s four-wheeler, circling around and around the barn yard with three kittens following closely behind.  There is snow to press into finely packed snowballs.

Falling snow.  How can something which is falling give one such a sense of peace and hope?  How can falling bring serenity?  For truly anything or anyone else that I’ve observed which has fallen down or fallen apart or fallen to pieces has caused me to feel great distress?

I watch the snow.

And I sense the stillness.  When things are falling, sometimes all that can be done is to stop and lean into the stillness.  To embrace the quiet.  And to let that which is falling, land where it may.  To let it find a place of rest.

Christmas is such a complicated season.  We want to love it so much, but there are times we just don’t.  We feel rushed and pulled and stretched and worn.  And sometimes we feel like we are fading.  Falling.  Like we are diminishing into less and less of us and becoming more and more of what is unrecognizable. Even to us.

There are simple pleasures like snow falling that bring such joy to our hearts.  We so often take these little moments for granted in the hustle and bustle of daily living.  But sometimes when we do find ourselves still- when we stop and notice: we find that everything inside us stops moving too.  That all the voices in our head tend to quiet.  All the anxiety starts to dissipate.  And the still- the calm washes over us like a billowing, rolling wave.  Allowing us to breathe.  To take it all in.

And we realize that we too have a soft place to land even when we are falling.  We too have a quiet place to stop and re-evaluate from whence we’ve come and to where we might be going.

And we too are exquisitely beautiful and unique and miraculous.  Just like all that falling snow.

Advertisements

Falling

The Christmas season was approaching and she felt an overwhelming sadness. The world around her seemed sad too. Distressing news abounded- from the biggest of stories to the heart-breaking ones that few ever heard. Even the weather seemed dismal at times: cold and dreary.

One star-lit night, she found herself driving a familiar road. It was cold again and her ears were red from the sting of the frigid evening air. Her nose right down to her toes were froze. And she sighed as she turned the key in the ignition and started up the engine. Frost sparkled on the floor mat, reminding her yet again of all she was leaving behind. Warmth, light, family.

As she drove, she looked at the houses, cozy and inviting. Lights shone through curtained windows and it appeared as though all the rest of the world was tucked away for another night. All except her.

She noticed to her right a window in a smallish house where a half-hidden Christmas tree twinkled with white lights. And when she saw that tree, she felt an immediate burst of irritation rise from within. “Who would be so crazy as to put up a Christmas tree in mid-November?” she asked herself rhetorically. “Don’t they know- Christmas isn’t for another month and a half? Besides, the world is not a peaceful, happy place. The world isn’t ready for Christmas yet.”

She continued driving on in silence. And when she got home later that night, she wrote with great feeling her emotions upon viewing earlier that night the festively, decorated window scene. She wrote with an underlying sadness. For she felt empty and lonely and worn. She wrote how she was not ready for Christmas and all its abounding expectations. She wrote about how Christmas had become another chore on her endless list. And she wrote that she was trying to ready herself this year to receive Christmas- for it was time to shift the focus away from giving until one was stripped bare and ragged. Until one had nothing left to give.

It was time to receive Christmas for a change.

And she thought about this idea of receiving Christmas for many days afterwards.

A few weeks later, just hours before the Advent calendars would be placed carefully on the mantle and the Christmas candles would be dusted off and set in their seasonal positions, the girl found herself again driving. And as she drove she came into area where a light dusting of snow covered hills and valleys as if it was flour thrown from a cup to land wherever it may. It was exquisitely beautiful.

Later still that same morning, the girl found herself sitting in a room full of people waiting for her turn to speak her piece. And in the quiet moments before the calm became a storm of activity- a flurry of busyness, she noticed outside a window directly in her line of view: snow softly falling. So delicately and free. And her eyes took in that one tiny moment first before noticing everything else around her- the hubbub of happy people, the beautiful garland strung gracefully from corner to corner across ceiling beams, accented by red and silver ornaments, the wire nesting trees set carefully on a table- and all of it creating a festive, happy mood.

And she happened to see out of the corner of her eye tucked away in the farthest corner of the room- a Christmas tree, partially hidden from view because of the large screen set up for the LCD projector.
Her eyes stayed on that tree for several moments. For it was truly beautiful. And something inside that girl burst. She saw the tree for what it was, not for what it reminded her. And she realized that it no longer served as a harsh reminder of all that she was not feeling and could not express. It was just a thing of beauty in spite of everything it stood for. And the girl looked back again toward the window, taking in the intricate flurry of snowflakes swirling in mid-air, and she thought to herself: “Surround yourself with beauty. Because life is beautiful in spite of it all.”

And of course, she realized, it is: life is beautiful. And in life, there is beauty. And when one looks for the beauty, all else pales in comparison. All the complicated, messiness of life starts to fade into a blur, where edges are harder to define. Where joy and sorrow meet and shake hands and declare a truce.

Where life becomes wildly wonderful even in the midst of pain and heartache.

And as the girl watched the snow fall softly, she realized she too had found a soft place to land- a place where she could find herself safely supported even as things fell apart and unravelled around her. Because just as no two snowflakes are ever going to be the same, neither will two lives ever follow exactly the same course. And that’s okay. Life is what is made of it. And it can be beautiful.

It really can.

Even when it is falling.