On Snow and Meditation

Advent Greetings!

Guadate! Rejoice!

Today in Dayton, OH we had the first big snow of the season. It was perfectly timed.  Snow is something, that for some people just causes a euphoric sort of feeling of joy inside.  The first snow blankets an earth that may still be a little green, and it causes a wonderful stillness.  It is quiet, really quiet.  Something happens to the earth that softens sounds, so that when you go outside surrounded in white, everything is a little softer.

This snow and that joy it brought are perfectly timed.  This semester has been tough.  In the last two weeks alone we have lost 3 Vowed Religious Marianists in the US, crisis has been erupting in Syria, our Marianist institutions have been in the end of the semester crunch, and we have been invited into the challenge and suffering of countless colleagues, families, and friends.  It’s just been difficult, and I’ve been mourning.

Today, snow brought me some healing.

I watched it come down all day, from my window and by mid afternoon several inches had accumulated outside.  I knew by about 2 o’clock it was time to go get out in it.  When I was in college, I began this tradition of visiting Mary at the grotto at Mount St. John during the first snow.  I would go there to pray, almost always during Advent, and just watch the snow fall from the sky and from her grotto.


I don’t recall having ever intentionally setting out to create this tradition, it just seemed like something that I felt called to do that first time and each time following, it has been a graced experience.

I chose today to sit for a while and pray and just watch the snow fall.  As you can tell from the picture, the snow was really coming down, so I put my head back to catch a few flakes on my tongue and a funny thing began to happen, snow started falling on my face.  When snow lands on your cheeks, it melts, and the melting snow has the same feeling as it rolls down your cheeks that tears do.  It is really remarkable.  Today, snow helped me to feel deeply, to love, and to mourn in a way that was most unexpected.

After spending some time with Mary, I visited the Brothers and Sisters in the cemetery.  Snow even softened their acutely felt deaths with its gentle blanket and embrace.  img_1949

I prayed near the newly dug graves, which under the snow were just little uneven patches of whiteness, before setting off on the trails for a snowy hike.

Hiking in newly fallen snow, that hasn’t yet been tread on is simply a delight. My boots squeak a little as I tread along the trails.  Other than the squeak, all is quiet.  Even when the snow falls from the branches to the ground, it makes no more than a gentle thump freeing up the branch space for more holy white stuff.

I hiked silently in the snow for an hour, taking in the beauty and the quiet.  For me, it was time with me and my God and was most needed.


The prairie has a different feel in the snow


Gazing at the top of the tree, the white snow could be mistaken for lush white flowers


Even thorns are more beautiful when draped in snow, a lesson here about perspective, the snow just changes the perspective


Snow changes the perspective alright, our dear Fr. Chaminade looks a little goofy in his furry snow cope

img_1944And Jesus is wearing a nice little furry snow hat

May Advent be filled with many changes in perspective as you prepare your heart in prayer and love to welcome God with Us this Christmas!