Most of the snow is gone now, save the dirty piles left in parking lots. Still it was good to see it fall, light and full. It reminded us of winters past, but more importantly it reminded us that seasons are still marching on despite our many struggles and emerging realities, not the least of which is the never-ending pandemic. Snow covers our world in a blanket of forgetfulness, turning all that is brown and scarred into a refreshing palette of clear purity. Snow democratizes our world but for a moment, not only in its fall, but in how it slows us down enough to appreciate its beauty.
But for a moment, snow changes our world. We know well enough what lies beneath it all is still there: poverty, racism, political rancor and climate change, to name a few. As Margaret Renkl wrote in The New York Times recently, “as a metaphor for clarity and cleanness, snow inevitably falls short. Everything that lies beneath its sheltering blanket — the scarred land, the trash our species always leaves behind — is still there. The snow is only a temporary respite.” (https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/10/opinion/snow-winter-2022.html)
Temporary though it may be, Renkl reminds us that nature can still help us transcend and find rest in the struggle of our lives. She recalls Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening:”
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
We are compelled sometimes to stop our days, take stock, and appreciate the very fact that we are still alive, with “miles to go before I sleep.” As Renkl reminds us: “We have promises to keep of our own — to the natural world, to our own very future — and they are as urgent as any in human history.”
Yours Always, Rev. John