Thursday, February 10, 2011

Is snow really like a terrorist attack?

Read the venerable New York Times’ screaming description of this snowfall, lines describing the snow as if it was a terrorist attack (I added the bold for emphasis):

“The storm created a fresh sense of snow fatigue in a region that has been unusually battered. Yet in New York City, where the slow municipal response to the Dec. 26 blizzard became a black eye for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and transit officials..."

As I scoop up another shovel of snow, I pause. I stare at the snowflakes, so vulnerable, so gentle, so tender. And I think: Why are we so convinced that we are where it’s at and the snow is an intruder, disturbing our lives, thus compelling us to shovel and cart it away. Perhaps it’s the other way around: Snow is where it’s at and we are the intruders…

Here we are – armed to the hilt, with shovels of all shapes and forms, ice picks, snow blowers and whatever else we can concoct – sweeping away and discarding these white messages from heaven.

Yes, I understand, I understand that we need to get to work, we need to be able to walk the streets without the danger of slipping, we have many important matters to deal with, etc. etc. etc. Yet, perhaps just perhaps the snow is not falling as a result of some meteorological disturbance, but is a message from above to place life in perspective.

How trapped are we in our perceived reality? Why can’t we step back from our routines and just take in the white flakes silently blanketing our toxic universe like a pure and clean blanket warmly embracing a child.

White snow. To appreciate the gift just imagine if the falling flakes were black.

And I wonder how many other blessings in our lives we are ignoring or even discarding as if they are rubbish?!

As I lift yet another bundle of the powdery snow, I see from a distance the weaving paths that have been cleared amidst the heaping snow hills all around. We really don’t have room for this divine snow in our lives. And I remember what a young girl once asked her pregnant mother: “Mommy. How do you make room inside yourself for another person?” Gulp. Men have problems making room outside of themselves for anyone else but themselves. A woman has room for another life inside herself. And not just room; she carries a child inside her belly, inside her very being. The growing fetus becomes part of and impacts her entire life, 24/7!

And here we have a problem with the heavenly snow crowding us out. We must remove it from our presence. We need our room.

[Obviously, we are all concerned about the hazards that the snow can pose for some, especially travelers caught in the storm. These words here are not meant to deny the fact that we need to protect ourselves from any severe weather.]

Time will come when we will shovel away the snow. And it will ultimately melt. But perhaps we can just leave these glistening crystals alone for a while, allow them to fulfill their mission from above, and allow us the time needed to absorb that message.

But no. We are too busy. We must go on with our lives. Not to mention the fact that as the day and night wear on the snow will harden and freeze and be much harder to shovel later. Yes, that is a problem. So we head out at dawn to carve out our trails amidst the snow coverings.

And here we are flippantly shoveling away, clearing the snow from our paths and boulevards, ensuring that not one speck of these white sparks clutter our journeys.

Here we are suffering from “snow fatigue.”

Ironically, we actually call it “digging out of the snow.” Hmm. Digging ourselves out of…

Instead of taking pride in the clear paths I have just sculpted between the surrounding snow mountains, I look at the last few snowflakes that I had just so rudely shoved to the side. I pick up a flake on my finger. But it melts before I know it, as if saying: “No, you cannot own me…”

I look closer and stare at the vulnerable and gentle snowflake – and wonder what message it has brought to me this fine morning.

- Simon Jacobson

1 comment:

  1. Amazing writing. As someone who has only spent six months of their life in a snow prone location, I know people take snow for granted. The inspiration it can offer is more than worth the effort to shovel away. It is truly a gift.