Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Great White Silence

Most of our snow has melted now, but it was beautiful for a couple of days. We didn't see much snow in Atlanta, so I grew up getting excited about it when it came. I've lived in the midwest for about 25 years, and I still get just as excited. It's what snow does to flat, empty land.

Our living room window looks south toward Terry's farm, where he alternates corn and soybeans. When it's all been harvested, like now, we can see nearly a mile over flat fields to the next line of houses, barns, and outbuildings on the road a mile south of us. It's a beautiful view all year, but under snow it has a silent, majestic dignity about it. Snow turns the landscape into a vast, white, empty, silent wilderness. There is something contemplative about the countryside in snow.

 I do morning prayers at that window and watch the sun come up, turning the sky and snow the same colors of pink, blue, yellow, and peach. I see the bare trees naked against the sky. Each species of tree has its own branch pattern, and each tree is a variation on a theme. Then there are the old bird nests and squirrel nests that can be seen. Limbs lost to storms, or to the Tree Police - what we call the county folks that cut them back to lessen the number of power outages in storm season. A tree bare against the sky is just as beautiful as one in full summer flower. It's just a different kind of beauty, one approproate to the season.

And the season is about hunkering down, simplifying, waiting, turning inward as we get out less. My prayer changes as the view out the window does. And prayer this time of year is quieter, more centered, more settled and inward, and longer. It is easier to turn inward when nature does the same. It is good to have winter between the Feast of the Nativity of Christ and the Great Feast of Pascha (Easter, in the West). The inner work of Lent can be done with fewer distraction in winter.

 How this works out in the Southern Hemisphere, I have no idea. But being a flaming introvert, I cherish the great white silence of winter.

No comments:

Post a Comment