Snowflakes are lucky creatures. Except the ones that fall in the midst of blackest night, rarely do they land without being greeted by the cheers of young children. Snow and children were created for one another. I can appreciate the transformative beauty of a snow fall – the trees draped in heavy white sweaters, the earth smoothed over and imperfections forgiven, the small birds with black heads highlighted against the cool white. But to children, the transformation is more than visual, it is an invitation for exploration, discovery, and movement. It is a gift of joy.
I watch as my oldest child roams through the snow, our simple front yard now holding his attention much longer than it would have had it been bare. His joy is palpable as he throws his body down onto the soft drifts, his smile reverberating through the trees, shaking more snow down on top of his sweet head. I wonder when I lost the joy of simply moving through and dancing in snow, when the idea of skiing, snowshoeing and other sports became more enticing than simply playing. I briefly consider throwing myself down as well, then remember that six inches of snow provides much more ample cushion for someone 36 inches tall than it does for someone five foot six.
My children beg for movement just as I long for stillness. An opportunity to sit, to rest, to enjoy the quiet snowfall. I wonder if the Saint Paul had thought about this when he advised his readers of the sins of the flesh. Now, in a perpetual state of parental exhaustion, the classic temptations of drunkenness and debauchery are less seductive to me than my couch. After the good nights are said and bedroom doors are shut, the couch calls, enticing me with Netflix sitcoms and other delicious evils. Laundry goes unfolded, and the guilt piles up next to it. Creative projects go unfinished, and the list of what I would like to do, had I only the time, or rather, the energy, grows longer.
Guilt might be an overstatement. I fully believe that a certain amount of Friends reruns and popcorn are not only forgivable, but I would postulate, good for the soul. It is not this that nags at me. It is the question of when I lost the joy of playing in the snow. When challenges were to be danced through, not avoided.
This year, my children have begun to take an interest in Christmas carols. Silent Night, of course, is an old favorite, and on snowy mornings, the house hums with the images of a peaceful woman and a sleeping child. After becoming a mother, the song always brings a wry smile to my face. There was no silent night. There were tears, there was screaming pain, there was blood. There was a man, who doubtlessly did not understand the delicate process of childbirth, whose feet ached and body begged for sleep. There was a baby, beautiful yet raw, and certainly not silent.
And still there was peace. Within the noise, the fear, the confusion, the joy, there was peace. It is the peace rather than the rest that makes the best fodder for songs, but the peace was born from the wild.
Perhaps I have it wrong. My search for a little peace should not come from the quiet still moments at the end of the day, although I will not stop treasuring those. The peace is in the midst of the wild energy that swirls through my boys. They look at the softly falling snow and see nothing but a blank canvas for adventure. I look at them, and see the peace of living with wild abandon.