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Snow Falls Like Grace


The first snow in London was pithy and came very late this year. My roomies opened the door last Saturday evening and squealed “it’s snowing,” in that tone of girlish excitement that you think you’ve grown out of, but somehow you never do.


“Oh, it is not!” I emphatically stated from my warm and cozy couch where I was camped out watching a Katherine Hepburn movie. I’m from Chicago, I know snow. London doesn’t do snow. At best we get dustings.


“Oh yeah? Look,” one of the girls opened the blinds with a flourish and turned out the lights. There, visible in the  brightness of street lamps, was snowing falling like it was the end of It’s a Wonderful Life and accumulating on the paver brick peacefully below. I looked up from the scarf I was knitting and smiled. Every muscle in my body instantly relaxed just by looking at the beauty outside.


The girls kept squealing as one put on her rubber wellies and hurriedly debated possible  clothing options to keep dry. She finally settled on an umbrella and, looking like someone who had just stumbled out of Narnia, she was off.


What is it about fresh snow, particularly the first snow of a season, that brings out the very best in people? Businessmen who have sat at their desk in suits all day suddenly tear out of their homes (with or without children) to make snowmen. Laughter comes cheaply and in abundance. We run to grab someone skidding on the ice, as if this act of nature, this thing of massive beauty, also brought just enough adversity to bind strangers together. Later snow falls will prove to be massively inconvenient, even frightening. But the first snowfall of the winter draws everyone to look outside, to see the seductive beauty of Nature so that all of us simultaneously agree: Despite all its short comings and heartache, this world is beautiful. 


Like so many other things, weather, which used to dictate our livelihood, is no more than an annoyance today. Few of us find ourselves praying for rain or warm weather, fearful that if we don’t get such favorable conditions our families will starve.  And out of the usual human arrogance, we find ways to control the weather, change the climate, until it suits our desires . It takes either great beauty or great terror from weather patterns we think we can predict, to remind us that there are forces beyond our control of whose mercy we are dependent upon.


We do not like to be reminded of our smallness.


Snow in many ways, is a wild beauty, able to turn savage if the wind changes direction or if  conditions alter. We have no control of how it envelopes us and for the amount of time we are under its power. Like any savage and grace-filled event, snow points to our assumptions of control as we run outside to build a snowman with strangers who have also been our neighbors for years. We cannot help but attempt to stick out our tongues and attempt to catch these mysterious and unique flakes, even if we think we are past such silliness. We than must concede that nothing in this world is in our control, and it was never meant to be.

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