Write what you will, my love, on the days of this new year. January has erased all that went before.
She leaves you with this slate of glistening possibilities. Choose what will bring you joy. Chose those what enable you to stretch toward greater kindness, greater daring, greater courage, greater love.
The past cannot contain or define you. January has swept the yesterdays away. Sail on her song of Yes, and soar.
With the birds gone from their nests and the leaves gone from their boughs, the sycamores were finally alone.
For a long time, they stood together simply enjoying the silence. They watched as winter settled in, quieting the stream, blanketing the hills with her snow. They napped beneath her deep clouds and dreamed beneath her glittery stars.
But now they were well rested and wide awake.
They chatted about the subtly lengthening days and delighted in seeing the first V of geese flying northward. Deep beneath the frozen soil, they felt the delicate stirring of their roots.
“Tonight is the new moon, my love,” one whispered to the other. They knew, from their ancient memories that only one more would come before springtime arrived. “The stars will hang bright and low.”
“Ah, yes,” the other smiled. “What do you say? Shall we dance?”
Perhaps among the ten billion planets that circle around distant stars, there are some where no snakes ever enter the garden and evil is only a cautionary tale.
Perhaps there are worlds where the flowers always blossom, where the air is always balmy, and where gentle rains fall only at appointed hours.
There, everyone is beautiful, and everyone thrives, and no one knows any pain.
I suppose it could be.
But we are here, on this uncertain world, where life blinks on and off with little notice, where the contrasts of weather and spirit range to every extreme, where, at every turn, our mettle is tested and all we have to guide us is our hope, and our faith, and the omnipresent singing of the Great Unfailing Yes.
Fresh snow fell again.
Its novelty has worn off. Our comfort-loving bodies have had quite enough now. Our bones are aching for warmth. Our eyes want color. Our fingers long to poke themselves into the earth’s moist soil.
And yet, as I stand here in this glistening world, listening to its silence, a tiny chickadee darts from branch to branch. It’s such a wee thing, with nothing but feathers to protect it from the arctic air, a playful miracle, here by choice when it could have easily flown away.
Just when we needed it most, the Yes painted the sky. No rainbow, this, but a pouring out of warm and blushing gold that spanned the whole horizon.
Here is a fire undaunted by winter’s coldest night, unstayed by her frozen days. Its promise sings across the heavens.
And even while we huddle by our own small fires, the Yes raises its Gloria, and beneath the ice and snow, life hears its song and inches toward rebirth.
If such snow came but once in a lifetime, the world would stop to watch it fall. People would pay vast sums for the privilege of walking through its powdery crystals and would consider it a gift beyond telling to hold a handful of it in their mittened palms.
To taste a pinch of it melting on your tongue would be a sacrament. To have it blow against your face would be to feel the breath of God.
It would be a day that you would describe to your children, and to theirs, praying that they would live long enough to see one like it, too. And the wee ones would listen at your knee, hardly daring to believe that your tales were more than legend, and longing for the day that would see them be true.
The morning’s squall etched the trees with fresh snow. It would be but the first layer of many to fall throughout the day.
The clouds that carried it never vanished. And so the woods remained devoid of color, the landscape looking as if some unseen hand had sketched it with pen and ink.
Who, seeing this world for the first time, could ever imagine its hills strewn with violets and a thousand pink spring beauties, its trees exploding in a palette of greens? Who could guess the shouts of crimson and gold that would come to brush these branches? Or the winged, singing creatures who would make this world their home?
And who, seeing this exquisite beauty, could possibly want for anything more?
With one swift stroke of her will, winter shows us who is who. Her might destroys our hubris.
At her command, the elements stop in their tracks. With nothing but her breath, she creates caves and towers. She transforms the familiar into the abstract with a geometry all her own.
She pours blue shadows into our tracks as we walk through her starfields in wonder. She takes our offering of breath, turning it to crystal, and adds it to her display.
We are but tools of her art, enraptured by her mastery, surrendering to her power.
Take this stark beauty, winter’s gift, into your soul. When the heat of summer scorches you, recall this frozen air, this shimmering snow, these motionless branches, bare in the wind.
Let this icy pallet lodge itself in your mind’s eye and come to cool you when the sky is red with waves of heat and your wet skin burns for a draft of cool air.
Take this vast silence and let it bring you ease when the day has been filled with the shrill shouts of children, the roar of traffic, the growl of commerce, the barking of dogs. Let it spread from your center with its gracious openness. Let it sooth and cool you, and bring you its glistening peace.
The pines rise from the ground like prayers, their straight trunks reaching right for heaven. I imagine that if they were in fact prayers, they would be joyful ones, full of earth’s laughter.
Here she is, after all, her springtime children just beginning to stir deep beneath this blanket of shimmering snow. And to balance them, on her south side, the leaves taking on the faintest hints of fall.
Oh, how grand to be spinning around a friendly star, dressed in oceans and clouds! Oh, how wondrous all the life that comes along for the ride!
If the rising trees are prayers, I’m pretty sure that they’re filled with laughter and praise.