The Separation and Harmony of Snow

This was a painting commission I created for Heather Strauch, PT/ 2010,inspired by winter

I woke up this morning recapturing the feeling I had as a child just before Christmas, and thinking of how, for me, Christmas is about Jesus and snow.

Laying there half asleep this morning, I felt that pleasant stirring at the heart chakra, remembering how those images on cards and in figurines of a baby effected me as a child. This baby, poor, innocent and vulnerable, born into a wretched circumstance was also held, protected, cherished. That image of Mary holding a baby in a barn got an important point across to me: that no matter how low we humans can go whether at birth or later in life, love preserves us, we are majestic to the core, even at our most vulnerable point.

After getting up, I kept thinking of how mankind has longed for God, and wished for there to be no separation from God.  I sank into memories or the feeling of my perception of God at that time, as a kid at Christmas. God, I understood, was omnipotent but willing to breech the divide between earth and sky is as if, after a long time coming, God finally got it and came down to we banished children of Eve.  All that deeply devoted reverence of the earliest scribes of monotheism, “God is One”, finally had a pay-off in that God now had to suffer a little bit like we have to, so maybe now he’ll be able to help us a little more? Yes, I figured he would, for sure. Maybe He’d protect me from the evil math teacher I had to encounter each day, in utter horror and fear. Or maybe He’d at least see what I was enduring in her class (and hopefully severely punish her, I prayed). He might even send Jesus to appear before her, as she taunted me with Cuisenaire Rods, and gaze at her with pity for her actions toward me, those flashing eyes clearly saying, “How could you? I know how Elaine feels. You should be ashamed of yourself.” I’d picture her cowering under the beams of light flashing from his eyes, realizing her great error and weeping in sorrow. These were my thoughts as a young Catholic kid praying to God to take away my burdens and suffering. As a kid with troubles that kids can have, I got that there was not to be a separation from me and God, only a connection and one that had meaning in my everyday life. Jesus never appeared and chastised her as far as I know but I held tight to the prayer as I suffered through that school year.

As I got ready for the day, I appreciated how we grow away and learn from past suffering, and suddenly realized how suffering is a huge part of Christmas. Suffering and the alleviation of suffering. And this is where the snow enters in for me. When it snows, I feel such a sense of harmony. And as it snows, often the divide between sky and earth blurs and everywhere is glistening white.  There is for a magical interlude no separation from earth and sky, it all becomes one swirl of magic. And of course I always had the image of Saint Nicholas trudging through the snow to put gifts at the ends of the beds or in the shoes of very poor children while they slept. Wasn’t he so good? Bishop Nicholas thought to give poor, innocent children what they lacked, and I liked hearing of it. And he left foot prints in the snow which said that the separation from harmony when we are at our worst times on earth ends when our suffering is alleviated, or when we end the suffering of another.

As I  headed to the studio for the day, I thought of how snowflakes remind me of a celebration, the kind that says we’ve reached some point at the end of suffering. The snowflakes drift down, nature’s confetti, each one magical and unique beyond comprehension, and gone forever in a quick fractal of time. They fall more than a millionfold from sky softly to earth and only last for a while–just like us–and seem to whisper secrets of the universe. When it snows, I run out to it as those crystals come down, making splendid designs on my face, my arms, my open hands. They cover everywhere and everything in silence, transforming everything and making it all feel that it is true, we are One.

4 thoughts on “The Separation and Harmony of Snow

  1. Elaine Post author

    Suzanne, I agree with you, the quote you gave seems to bare the same message as the basic thing I so wanted to express in this post, that the season of light and joy is about alleviation of human suffering. Truly, even through despair we can be reborn into or not lose our grace. I appreciate your thoughtful responses here, always!
    Elaine

  2. suzanne urban

    I too had some cruel teachers to endure. In Oregon, a teacher who tied kids to their seats, who denied me the opportunity to go to the girls room as I didn’t go at the “scheduled time” with all the other little girls. I ended up wetting my pants and being laughed at by the other students. I was only six years old. Though my family wasn’t emotionally supportive-they didn’t blame me-nor did they confront the school-I guess this is why I sign so many petitions for children’s rights online, and email our public servants i.e. politicians when I feel a child’s rights have been violated.
    It’s been said-old chinese proverb-”through crisis comes opportunity”, those who endure if they connect to what is good and know there is still good here will take their experience to enlighten others to do good.

  3. Bryan

    I like the snow/ice woman in the image a lot. How she is part of it all yet separate. Thanks for the thoughts. I have been having a lot of childhood memories just pop up of late. It is kind of fun. Like someone surprising me with a photo album out of nowhere. :) I have not delved to think about my childhood Christmas feelings. I lost that feeling until I had young children of my own. Then seeing the excitement and magic in thier eyes rekindled my love for the best parts of the season. :)

  4. Loretta

    I too feel the same about the snow. I love it~ It cleanses everything for me. The beauty of creation amazes me.

    I did not have the same feelings about GOD or prayer due to the way I was raised. Christmas was not celebrated with my Mom, only my Dad and Step Mom. I was taught as is now well known, that Jesus was not born on Dec. 25th and that it was a way for the Romans to get Christians to celebrate their Pagan holiday. And my Dad only spoke of “Santa” never what Christmas was about. In those days, he was an atheist. As I got older, Christmas time was visiting one brother in the State Mental Hospital for drug addiction and my other brother was a violent drunk that went off at this time of year.
    But I have always believed in a kind, loving GOD. I do respect others feeling at this time of year and Smile, hoping it brings them closer to the light and keep their hearts filled with love and kindness….
    I do agree with the suffering and that Jesus was loving enough to be our sacrifice….the suffering he endured always brings tears to my eyes and hurts my heart. And yet, I am so grateful for it because it taught me loving kindness and compassion.

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