silent night

It is snowing in Minnesota. Winter is upon us, and I can’t help but feel inspired. I love the snow. Everyone has to slow down when it snows. We’re forced to prioritize what is important and necessary. It’s a shared experience that brings about some more empathy, patience and understanding.

I find that the stillness of the snow brings me peace, quiet and reflection. The world is dusted with a fresh canvas, awaiting disruption. When it snows, I often find myself bundling up to walk. I love just to get lost in the serenity that has fallen upon the busy city.

I ventured out in the latest snow storm to clear off my car and run it, hoping to avoid any mishaps or a dead battery before the heavy flakes arrive overnight. The glow of the streetlights illuminated the glittery, powdery flakes that danced to the ground. The relatively untraveled sidewalks beckoned me. I couldn’t resist and wandered to see what would be revealed on my journey.

The crunch of the fresh snow under my boots brought the first spark of joy that kept me going. I can count on one hand the number of cars that passed me. I could hear the scraping of two shovels, and the only living creature that noticed me was a curious dog, happily playing in the powder.  I trudged along the path, peering at the lit Christmas trees in the window and admiring the thoughtful decorations outside the homes. I was delighted to come across icicles on a red house with sparkling lights. They looked almost fake perfectly dangling.

The snow left me breathless and in awe. As I gazed above and marveled in its majesty, suddenly “Silent Night” started playing in my head. I was overcome with peace and gratitude to be alive.

Something similar happened to me once before. After spending a day in the newsroom covering a mass terror attack, I called my brother, who was 9 at the time, to go for a walk. I needed to clear my mind in nature. We set off for the Arboretum after my shift. We went for a walk in the early spring with cameras in tow. Suddenly, my brother began humming the Lenten hymn “Were You There.” I remembered it was Holy Week.

There was something so beautiful and innocent in that moment, it was seared in my memory. Here we were, walking together along a path where signs of life were re-emerging. The world didn’t seem so lonely and scary. This child had awakened that feeling of peace and gratitude.

I smiled at the memory, and suddenly became aware it was rather cold. As I circled back to my starting point, I passed landmarks of my childhood and recalled the childlike simplicity of the world. The silent night brought me home, and the snow continued its descent.

The heat was overwhelming and almost suffocating when I opened the door to the building. I did not want to go inside, but unfortunately my legs were freezing in ill-suited yoga pants. I entered my cozy apartment to find my 30-minute adventure resulted in a helmet of fresh snow coating my head.

I grabbed a fresh cup of tea and sat to watch the snow, thankful for the stillness and grateful to be alive as the snow melted, trickling down my back.