Friday, December 12, 2014

Silent Snow

One of the things I love most about snow is how quietly it falls.

See, when rain comes down hard, it really pounds.  Not so for snow.  Even when snow is falling at a really good clip, it does so in soundless luxury.  Sure, sometimes when snow is accompanied by wind, you can hear it being blow against the windows.  But that’s not snow’s fault.  You can blame the wind for that.

When I think back to memories of snow through my life, I keep returning to the silence of it.

When we were kids and it snowed, my brothers and I would go out in it.  We’d haul our sleds and saucers up the hill behind our house.  With the right kind of snow, we could often get some runs in that took us nonstop over the backyards of 3 or four of our neighbors before we would lose momentum and come to rest.  Those were fun times.  But for some reason, as I unbox these memories from the attic of my mind, what also comes rushing forward are the memories of dragging my sled up the hill, and the only sound I can hear is the crunching of my own boots as I do so.  I’d get to the top, position my sled, and then just take a moment to lay there.  Other than the occasional hoot or holler of another kid taking a run, the only sounds I’d hear would be my breath.  And even when the snow was falling heavily around me, there would only be delicious silence.

I jump forward now to my days in college.  Attending in the northeast, we got plenty of snow each winter.  Some of my fondest memories are of walking home to my dorm or fraternity house at night after some late class, meeting or other activity while snow falls around me.  In the glow of streetlamps and spotlights, the snow would be visible against the darkness of night all around it.  So clean and new, a fresh blanket of snow would give the entire Arts quad a freshly-painted feel.  Quiet.  So quiet.  No sound but the crunch of my boots.  And when I crossed the suspension bridge as I did so many of those nights on the way home, I’d stop right in the middle and just listen.  In the dark, silence with a gorge stretching out deeply in front of and behind me, I’d watch the snow fall.  So beautiful.  So quiet.  Sometimes it was almost a spiritual experience.  Blessed to catch this glimpse of God working his wonder.

The last memory I’ll share is from a few years ago.  We went to Vail for a family ski trip.  Such a beautiful, majestic place.  With ski trails as wide as football fields, pines towering above and fresh snow falling almost afternoon, the place was literally a white cathedral, where skiers from around the world go to worship each year.  Even despite the nervousness that comes when your child skis into the woods beside the trail and you wait patiently to see when and where they will emerge (hopefully unharmed), the gentle snowfall had a peaceful calming effect. 

So the next time it snows, I implore you to open the door, a window or to step out on your back deck if you have one…….and listen. 

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