A Story Told In Snow

Photo by Nils Rasmusson on Unsplash.com

The Heavens Invite Us Into A Bigger Story

by Eric Elkin

The heavens are telling the glory of God;
    and the firmament proclaims his handiwork…
There is no speech, nor are there words;
    their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
    and their words to the end of the world.
— Psalm 19: 1-4

It was not snowing when I went to bed, and there were no clouds in the morning sky. Yet, the land was covered with a very fine dusting of white snow. It was like a powder, easily disturbed by even the smallest and lightest movement. At some point during the night, when most people were sleeping, snow fell from the sky. Who knows how many people were witnesses to the activity. 

After the snow fell, the temperatures dropped to sub-zero levels. The bright morning sun lit up a cold world and filled it with wonder. The combination of all these elements made every movement visible. 

I went out for a morning walk with our dog, Jussi. Every breath we took filled the air with steam. Every step left an imprint of our activity in the snow. The white ground, barren trees, and bright sun made the movement of squirrels and birds visible. Both of us involuntarily turned our heads at distant movements deep in the woods.

As we headed into the park, we could tell there had only been one human here before us this morning. Yet, the snow told a story about a life typically unseen by casual walkers. There were tiny prints of a vole scampering across the snow. It made me wonder the reason for his journey. Was the vole in search of food or shelter from the cold? The tracks of a single rabbit were there as well. I could tell it was a small rabbit. What was this child doing alone in the woods?

In this lonely glen, with its brook draining the slopes, its creased ice and crystals of all hues, where the spruces and hemlocks stand up on either side, and the rush and sere wild oats in the rivulet itself, our lives are more serene and worthy to contemplate.
— Henry David Thoreau

There was no voice to narrate this story, but the snow spoke of a community busy at work. A rafter of turkeys crossed through the field and headed off into the woods. A cat had made the same journey, yet in a different direction. The tiny prints of small birds, most likely Juncos in search of food, surrounded a sapling on the edge of the forest. Thankfully, there were no signs of coyotes. 

We did not see any of these creatures, nor did we hear them. Their story was left in the snow for me to see. I would never have learned their story if the moisture up in the highest levels of the heavens had not frozen and drifted down to the ground. Somewhere west of us, got more than a dusting of snow, their ground told a different story. One of big trucks plowing snow and snow blowers digging out driveways.

The heavens speak no words and snow, at least this kind of snow makes no sound as it falls. Yet poets and psalmists write about heaven’s voice which goes throughout all the earth with words that reach the ends of the world. When we read this kind of description, we know exactly what they are talking about. It is a world one gets to witness on a cold morning walk after a fresh snowfall.

When I find myself on one of these walks I give thanks for the experience. My gratitude is for more than the beauty of it. I am thankful the world is more complex and intricately connected than my mind can grasp. It helps remind me I am not singlehandedly responsible for holding it together. I am part of a bigger story, and the one who weaves it together is calling me to walk humbly in it. 

Click to read Psalm 19

Reflection Questions:

  • When has nature told you a story?

  • What did you learn from the story?

  • How does God speak to you through creation?

  • What are you thankful for this day?

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