Of Snow and Gratitude

This morning as Zuki and I padded down the road, the snow changed from tiny wisps to downy flakes. The path whitened. Our tracks became visible—for a few moments until the snow filled them in. As it gained velocity and intensity, the snow appeared to drop with intention, to blanket the ground wholeheartedly as if each crystal joined with others to create something larger than itself.

I conceive of the moments of my life accumulating like snow. Ultimately impermanent but for the time being, gathering into a fullness much like the fields of snow that captured my imagination as a child. I loved waking and gazing out at the unmarred wash of white, then pulling on snow pants and jacket, boots and a hat and clomping out into it—hesitant at first to disturb it. Yet the untouched canvas yearns for paint—and snow may long to be sullied by the footprints of those come to admire it. We draw our lives a moment at a time and periodically step back to register what we have done.

In a few days, I’ll turn fifty-five, one of those alliterative years that invites reflection. I’ve learned that the great upheavals, the sand and salt and spray of dirt that sully the roadside snow disappear beneath the next snowfall or the eventual spring melt. I’ve witnessed enough winters to recognize the snows of redemption muting the harsh reality of ceaseless tracks and tires spun out of control.

The drama of earlier decades has given way to a calmness that arises from a sense of dayenu. Last night, speaking with a friend on the phone I recounted the two students who said, “You changed my life,” and the two people I encountered in my role as a minister who told me my presence had made their dying easier. “That is enough,” I told my friend. I don’t need to influence or affect thousands or hundreds, or even dozens. A few suffice. My late friend and mentor Eckart Horn told me it’s enough to lighten a single moment in someone’s life each day.

On Christmas Eve, I sat in my freshly painted prayer space, the walls snow white according to Benjamin Moore. It is not lost on me I chose the color of snow as a backdrop to prayer. I realized every single moment of my life has contained love. I came into this world loved and that hasn’t stopped. Like the snowflakes falling every which way, love comes unbidden.

This snowfall will melt but somewhere in the universe the moisture will remain. Like the waning moon that’s always full, love abides.

And though my life bears the mark of smudged erasures, white out, and strike-through lines, asterisks, revisions and amends, it remains a love letter to the world—ardent and enough.

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