Snow Falling Gently

A pileated woodpecker goes about finding food.
(Click to enlarge photos.)

Snow falling gently in a quiet wood is sacramental, a gracious act revealing the sacredness of Creation.

I was reminded of this on a cold winter day as I listened to the rat-a-tat-tat of a pair of pileated woodpeckers and the low hoot of a distant owl as snow covered the woodlands where I stood.

The ethereal rustle of snowflakes alighting on trees provided a musical undertone.

Shhh, shhh, shhh whispers the snow. Be quiet. Be still. Listen. See.

A quiet snowfall is so completely innocent and deeply authentic.

Snow covers the forest bed.

In contrast to the noise with which we all live these days, and to the tawdry artifice of popular culture, this beauty leads to contemplation and reflection.

Before your eyes, the wood is transformed. How can you not be swept away from the mundane and led to consider the sublime?

If the place in which you stand can change so quickly and beautifully what other surprises might nature teach about “reality?”

Snowflakes fall ever so gently.

Well, there is much to learn: Creation is dynamic, an on-going process, as is life itself, if we have ears to hear and eyes to see.

Life need not be bound by limited expectations. Reality need not be immutably fixed. Transformation happens, sometimes simply and quickly. And it can be beautiful.

Nature awakens us to a higher level of consciousness–or is it a deeper, more interior way of comprehending?

Snow gathers on a reed-like stem.

Of course, the scientist can explain how moisture condenses as warm air rises, clashing with cold resulting in ice crystals that fall to earth. But science cannot explain why we are transfixed with wonder, mesmerized by its beauty and led to contemplate and reflect as it happens.

We can lose ourselves in higher thought and our trivial cares melt away in a snowy woodland day. That’s beyond the ability of science to explain.

A tufted titmouse collects a kernel from an icy plant.

We are invited, however gently, to cultivate the ability to be present and fully attentive, so that we can see and hear in more profound ways, to reach beyond the obvious limits and break out of the binding cords that can make life seem routine and wearisome.

We live in an age that makes a fetish of being productive, an age of doubt, violence, fear and alienation.

Religion has, for many, been turned into uncritical certitude devoid of mystery and wonder, a refuge for exclusion and authoritarianism.

It is diminished, and as a result, matters less to the truly inquisitive.

And yet we yearn for the transcendent.

We must answer the question Einstein said is the first and most basic: Is the universe a friendly place?

I say, “yes.” And more.

What is sacred is not “out there” in some distant nether land. It is here before us and within us. Emmanuel, the holy in-dwelling.

The very ground upon which we stand points to the holy. That we do not see does not make it untrue.

The holy, or, if you wish, that which offers meaning and inspires us, is already before us to apprehend, to discover, with insight, compassion and concern.

That is why snow falling gently in a quiet wood is sacramental.

2 Responses to “Snow Falling Gently”

  1. Marilyn Sinclair January 20, 2018 at 3:50 pm #

    Beautiful commentary, beautiful pictures!

  2. Margaret Novak January 20, 2018 at 3:56 pm #

    Thank you, beloved friend. I’ve heard you give many a speech and read many of your blogs. This is the most gentle, profound writing I’ve seen from your pen. Thank God for your gifts. And thank you for always looking for and finding a way to use them.

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