I always wish for snow. I know it is not a popular wish. Most people welcome the warmer days, the dry roads, the sunny afternoons in January. But the child in me misses winter as I remember it: sledding down our street, carrying ice skates to Mill Creek Pond, stamping a giant pie in the back yard and chasing my sibs up and down the radii until our cheeks grew flushed and our hands tingled inside our mittens. I recall sitting in a classroom at St. Nicholas Elementary staring out at the flakes swirling down over the rosary garden and the sports fields beyond. I didn’t think about snow days off from school. To be honest, I’m not certain we had them then. But I knew that snow meant outdoor play that ended with cold noses, wet feet, and hot chocolate made from scratch. We planned for these events as surely as we laid out our school clothes each night. Anticipation made the world spin.
My writing desk looks out over the side yard and the street that curves past our house. Each winter morning before I sit myself to write, I check to see if perhaps a miracle has happened, that snow has fallen and layered the grass and the garden beds, dusted the shorn prairie, skimmed the pond with ice. Hoping for snow, I bend to the tasks of the day, but the simple act of wishing gives me purpose. Beauty is always waiting in clouds laden with gray foreboding, in patterns traced in the grass by wind and rain, in the bright glimpse of a dog walker’s scarf set against the backdrop of January gloom.
I have two favorite quotes. One is by Khalil Gibran: We live to discover beauty. All else is a form of waiting. Each of us finds beauty in distinct and separate moments: the flutter of a baby’s eyelashes, the shimmer of a butterfly wing, the coda of a symphony, the bold colors of a Rothko print. In those special moments, we find a way to transcend the warts of society, the horrors of history, and to remember what makes life so acutely sacred. Each time I set a sentence down on the blank screen, I hope that scribing that computer ‘snow’ will result in some small measure of beauty.
My other favorite quote is by Ghandi: Be the change you wish to see in the world. This, too, sets the tenor of my days, for if I do not approach the future with hope, then all those gifts of beauty, those exquisite glimpses of life as it could be, will be lost, dissolved like snowflakes into grime and road salt.
It’s not snowing this morning. Weather reports for this tail end of 2018 and the initial days of 2019 in southwestern Ohio indicate a huge storm plans to roar across the nation, stranding travelers, wreaking havoc on the roads and airways. As I pack for a trip to Canada to see family that I miss, my secret heart keeps ticking off the chances for snow. I’d like to try out my new boots, a gift from my husband who knows only too well how much I wish for that white blessing.
May you find beauty around every corner and purpose in all you do.
Happy New Year!