Late in the evening, after boys have been prayed with, kissed and hugged, and sent on their way, Keith comes in from taking out the dog. Scraping his boots against the mat with front door open, he announces the arrival of the wintry miracle: SNOW.
Snow is a rare treat in the mountains east of San Diego. A land of beaches and 365-day-a-year sunshine doesn't seem to meld with the reality of snow. But in our small town of 1200 souls nestled into the crook of the mountains, snow descends but a few times each winter. Sometimes once, sometimes not at all, snow creates excitement here.
Elizabeth and I run to the front door and glory in the dusting of snow, perhaps a quarter inch, our cameras in hand. I snap into the darkness, the whiteness glowing in the deep of night. I glance at the thermometer on our porch and see that it is hovering around 30 degrees, and hope that the snow will remain until morning so the boys may enjoy it also.
Gratefully Elizabeth and I return to the warmth of hearth. This stove we installed in a faulty but beautiful stone fireplace heats our home this winter. The children and Keith take turns tending the fire in the mornings, in the late afternoons and evenings. It is the beating heart of our home about which we gather, its warmth suffusing the winter cold that is my enemy -- the enemy to my rheumatoid arthritis. I huddle on the hearth after our foray onto the snowy front porch, allowing the heat to loosen my tightened joints, release my tensed muscles. Above the roiling flames the Holy Family are arranged across the simple wooden mantel-- carefully placed by Elizabeth each December. Each piece has its position, surrounded by candles and lights and greenery.
In the morning I awake, hearing the boys outside, playing in the night's gift of snowfall. The light glowing through my window blinds is brighter than usual, reflecting the whiteness blanketing the ground. After dressing, I go downstairs to find the house deserted, emptied of children. Following the music of happy voices, I spy all four outside, well-bundled against the cold morning. Benjamin is spread-eagled on the ground, attempting a snow angel while his brothers laughingly attempt skate-boarding on ice-encrusted cement. Elizabeth flutters between them, snapping photos and taking videos of their snowy antics. As I pull out my own camera, I notice the house's shadow encroaching across the snow's whiteness, a reminder that all is not light and bright in this our fallen world.
Light and dark. The light of snow in the dark of night. The warmth and brightness of fire on a cold, dark night. The shadows creeping across sun-lit snow. Light and dark. Both are present.
Darkness seems to creep, stealing over goodness and light. But the purifying heat of the homefire pushes away the darkness and the coldness, warming our souls as well as our bodies. Children glory in the whiteness of snow, in the gift of these moldable flakes, in the rarity and goodness of them. And they return home with red cheeks and bright eyes, joy-filled souls who dispel the darkness with the light of His gifts.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. -- Saint Matthew 5:16
In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. -- Saint John 1:4-5