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I know of few things that separate my adult life from my childhood life quite the way that snow does.
As a child, snow was magical.
It had the power of giving us an unexpected day off from school. I remember going to bed giddy every night as a child when there was the promise of snow the next morning. I would awaken early and sit next to the radio with my siblings as they interrupted their broadcast schedule to read off the list of school closings. We went to St. Blaise grade school, so we had to wait until they got to the ‘s’es in the alphabet to know whether or not we would have the day off. When they read the name of our school, we would scream and shout and hug and plot out a day that would include bundling up in warm clothes and heading out to play.
The play included building snow figures, sledding, hockey in the street, snow-ball fights, snow angels, tackle football in the soft snow, and so much more. Snow was a gift no matter how or when it came.
As an adult, snow has become a pain in my backside.
It means shoveling and scraping. It means dangerous driving. It means slips on the ice and potential broken bones. My own dad began his slow walk to death when in his mid-80s he slipped on the ice and broke his hip. He was never the same again.
I have had car door handles break off in my hand because they snapped while I was trying to scrape ice off of them.
I have had car windows or mirrors crack while trying to clean snow off them.
I once stood on the side of a highway because the driver of the car I was in slid off the shoulder, only then to watch about fifteen cars behind us pile up in a massive wreck while we just stood there and watched.
Instead of being the child anxiously and hopefully listening for cancellations, I now call my head of HR and make hard decisions about whether or not we close the building for the day.
I stopped seeing the beauty in snow a long time ago, and now approach each snowfall with a sense of dread.
Snow serves to remind me that once I stood in glorious wonder at what the Earth had the capacity to reveal. I thought of this earlier in the week when I just went for a walk one evening as a gentle, wet snow fell to the ground. I paused along the banks of Lake Erie and looked out at the trees lining the shoreline. I took breath, and remembered that even snow could be beautiful.
It is hard to reclaim joy from a cynic. But it happened to me this week. I found a way back to childhood joy and wonder, letting the Earth do what the Earth does and just giving thanks for it. Didn’t Paul say to rejoice in all circumstances? Yeah, he did. So maybe I can again see snow as more than just a pain in my backside. Maybe it’s time all of us buried some of the cynicism that comes with adulting and give ourselves permission to reclaim joy on this, our journey Into the Mystic.
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