Thursday, February 28, 2013

beautiful blinding whiteness

In my part of the world, winter is harsh and long.  Although some people find ways to enjoy these long months of cold and snow doing winter sports, I can't get over the fact that it's cold and humid long enough to really enjoy anything.

Except on days like today.  This morning every surface was covered in  beautiful, gleaming white, fluffy, wet snow.  In a word, it was breathtaking.  Beautiful and awesome all at once, since it seemed to erase everything beneath it--all the brown slushy snow, all the ice, all the brownish grass, everything.  All that was left was white.  The landscape was transformed and I was transfixed as I always am when we get snowfalls like this.

The Perfect Snowfall
This only really happens a few times over the four months we have snow.  Several factors have to converge to get this type of beauty.  First, you need a goodly amount of snow on the ground already.  Then, the snow has to be wet and sticky so that it clings to the branches of the trees and everything else in sight.  Last, but not least, in order for it to have its full effect it has to snow overnight, so that in the morning the world seems anew and refreshed.  Whitewashed. Cleaned. Erased.

Now, I know that my husband would disagree with my view of this type of snowfall.  He thinks its pretty too, don't get me wrong, but he also sees the snow and thinks...great! more shoveling.  Humbug!

That being said, for me the three or four times a year this happens are really special.  They are the only times I actually want to get bundled up and go outside.

This morning, however, the snow was also something more because it reminded me of last Sunday's Gospel reading, which was the Transfiguration (Luke 9: 28-36).  I love this Gospel story because it reminds me of the transformative power of Grace that comes through prayer, but also of its power to change everything.  To wake us up, as Jesus' changed appearance and glaring white robes woke up the sleepy Apostles that day.

The snow as I walked outside with my son was so bright I had a hard time seeing--if you have blue or green eyes you'll know what I mean about the glare of snow being worse than sunlight.  I longed for my sunglasses, but didn't feel like going back home to get them.

I thought about the fact that when we encounter real glaring truths, when the veil between this world and the next lifts for a second, we are so overwhelmed that we often close our eyes (for real, or metaphorically  depending on the circumstances).  I suppose humans need to know about the existence of darkness--need to feel some sadness-- to interpret the light, to contemplate it better.  I couldn't see the beauty well because of my squinting...the darkness of my shades would have, ironically, allowed me to appreciate the brightness better.

Next time I feel a shadow pass through my consciousness, I'll try to remember this day and that sometimes a little darkness--or sadness--(or a lot of it) must be a part of any human life in order to really be able to see the pristine awesomeness of Creation and the human condition within it.

On the last day of Pope Benedict's pontificate, I dedicate this post, this snowfall and my prayers to this new period for him and  for the Church.  May we all be transformed and made anew in this Lenten season.

Check out Father Barron's sermon about Luke 9:28-36--the Transfiguration--by clinking on the link
Word on Fire

Pope Benedict's Farewell
The Vatican website has some great video of his final days as Pope and the live feed is a neat feature.
La Santa Sede

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