It is fashionable to complain about snow. We don’t like shoveling it, we don’t like driving in it, we don’t like how much we get (no matter how much or how little that is), we don’t like where it falls, or the things we’re asked to do in it, or how long it makes everything take. We adults seem to spend a lot of time hating it.
What fools we are.
Snow is something enchanted. It changes the whole world, flake by flake, degree by degree, until we emerge from our hiding places and find ourselves somewhere new and clean and fresh. The drab ordinariness of our daily world is now blanketed in silence and light, glowing beneath an invisible sun. You breathe deep, and the air sears your lungs with its chilly clarity. It’s like waking up from a bad dream and letting all the heavy, sticky violence of your nightmare fall away. There ‘s just you, alone, calm and surrounded by the quiet beauty of a new world.
It is no accident to my mind that CS Lewis had Lucy stumble through the wardrobe and into a Narnia locked in eternal winter. There seems nothing else in nature that captures the mystery and enchantment of life than a wood cloaked in shimmering ice. When I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for the first time, I was standing there with Lucy, my breath catching at the sight of the lamppost. I could feel the cold, clean air across my knuckles; I felt the encroaching chill as it ate its way through my sneakers. I could smell the stillness of the place. I wanted to know where that forest led. I wanted to hear the crunch of it beneath my feet. For a child, snow is adventure and wonder and magic.
As we grow older, our practical selves wage a slow, steady war against that part of us that glories in the simple pleasures of a snow-covered field. Just as the Pevensies eventually grew too old to come to Narnia, we also lose some part of ourselves. We see snow as the obstacle, the inconvenience. We spend all our time moving it and cursing it and wishing it would melt, but we spend almost no time looking at it. Tasting it. Standing stone-still on our front steps, breathing deeply, and listening to how the snow has made our noisy, bustling, stressful adult world quiet and slow. This is a gift, friends. It is an opportunity to dream of far-off places and worlds reborn. It is the very stuff of fantasy.
Take heed, friends. Stop. Listen. Breathe.