Tag Archives: WinterWonder

Angels In Our Midst

Snow Image, January 2023

I’ve known two people who could see auras, sometimes around people they knew and sometimes around strangers walking down the street. Neither saw them all the time, and neither talked about it much – it made too many people nervous. The same goes for a couple of people I know who have the gift of healing through touch. All four were quite sure that these spiritual gifts weren’t a sign of superior spirituality, and all were emphatic that they weren’t something that was earned or deserved. These four have offered God’s love in uncommon ways, and have made the world a better place for the sharing of their gifts.

Most of us haven’t seen any members of the heavenly host winging through the air, bearing greetings and do-not-be-afraids to those who are asked to go on a mission from God. But we have seen messengers who bring a word of assurance and loving touch when we are afraid, and a steady if small light when we are in dark places. Such angels may not be sporting wings or haloes, but they bring with them a glimpse of God’s presence – and they leave behind the impression that something holy has visited us.

Through the Crack

A careless placement and a swift movement sent my wedding rings into the space between the cupboard’s edge and the side of the stove. It’s too narrow for reaching in, too dark to see into, and the stove too heavy for me to move without help. Since I was alone at the time, I couldn’t get them back and go on my merry way. So they remain out of reach until my husband or one of my sons can work with me.

It’s now my visual for a life-altering truth: relationships like a marriage cannot be created, fostered, or repaired by an individual. Let’s hope I’m wise enough to ask for help when needed, and offer it when asked…


He arrived on Saturday, the latest addition to the family. My younger son got him at the Dartmouth animal shelter. He’s fun, friendly, and Jared will name him in the next couple of days.

Until he gets used to his new home, Jared is keeping doors to the bedrooms closed, and has moved the litter box up from the basement. Too much unfamiliar space can be overwhelming for a kitten, so smaller means safer at this point.

This won’t always be true, but for now limiting space is an act of love. Physically smaller can be emotionally and existentially beautiful – much like the kitten himself…

Lesser Lights

Vermont Night, February 2023. Photo by Dave Fredrickson

High winds and subzero temps kept us inside for most of the weekend, so it was with delight that we stepped into a beautiful winter night this Sunday. Planets and stars walked with us, with just an occasional cloud passing in between. Other than a few house lights in the distance, and the odd string of lights on one of the neighbors’ houses, our path was illuminated by what the night sky offered. The moon was still half hidden by the Green mountains as we began our walk, rising steadily until it was well above them when we turned into our driveway to head inside. A few paces down the driveway and the house lights took over, outshining the softer gleams of heavenly bodies.

I often think about the lights we create, the lesser ones that only shine on our little section of this universe. From my limited view, they are brighter than the much grander celestial lights. I am grateful for the light they shed, and for welcoming family, friends, neighbors, and strangers as they walk to our door. I am also grateful for the truth they reveal:

In the grand scheme of things, it’s easy to forget that what is near and familiar often appears larger than it is. And what is truly grand can be mistaken for a lesser light because it is beyond my own back yard.

And my path is illuminated by both…

Making Waves

February 4, 2023

Last night, the temperature dove from one to seventeen degrees below zero. The wind howled and turned tree branches into a percussion ensemble. This morning’s sun revealed in the snow a still life of what is never still: the breaking of an incoming wave. A wind-sketched ocean has taken up temporary residence in this Vermont valley. How vast is nature’s power to create through severe weather the same pattern in two places that will never meet.

I wonder if it is just such power that drives us to create such patterns. How vast is the power of the Spirit moving through our lives that we sketch its pattern in words and images. What is scripture, liturgy, architecture, and music if not our best attempts of giving future generations a glimpse of the pattern God has impressed on our holy lives?

Manchester Center, Vermont – February 5, 2023

And Keep Cold

No orchard’s the worse for the wintriest storm;

But one thing about it, it mustn’t get warm.

How often already you’ve had to be told,

Keep cold, young orchard. Good-bye and keep cold.”

excerpt from Goodbye and Keep Cold, by Robert Frost

Soon after moving to Vermont, I planted some bulbs along the front walk. Nothing special, just some irises and daffodils from my Massachusetts garden. Then I planted chives off the back porch. With minimal care, these plants will be thriving long after I am gone.

Still, I’m concerned. Lately, the temperatures have shot up into the upper 40’s, and the ground hasn’t remained frozen. With the recent move, I’m not sure if the plants can survive the temperature swings. Winter is nap time for plants, a time to hunker down until it is time to produce again. It’s a rest period, a pause before expending energy in the form of flowers and leaves. What happens when there isn’t enough snow covered down time?

It’s something I think about in my own life, this need for a period of rest. If I don’t take a break from creating and producing, it won’t be long before I cannot produce much at all. Everything has a season, and dormancy is as critical a season as any.

But what if I stop producing? What if a dormant season isn’t a season – what if it stretches to become a barren life? That’s where trust comes in. That’s where the wisdom of seasons is embraced, and the faith that a growing season will return. Or, in Frost’s closing words,

But something has to be left to God.


Snow Steps

On a snowy afternoon, I took a right out of the driveway instead of my usual left, walking away from the cloud-covered mountain view in favor of the smaller scale quiet of trees and stone walls. No breeze played in the branches and all the houses stood silent. My own breathing and the tck-tck-tck of my boots compacting the snow were the only sounds overlaying the peth-peth-peth of falling flakes. In the snowfall-filtered light, at the end of my road, I entered a sanctuary as holy as any stone cathedral.

It remained only for a few minutes, bourn away by the sound of a truck engine starting somewhere close by. I turned around and pointed my boots homeward. Mine were still the only impressions in the snow, marking a solitary progression from home to unexpected holy ground. They would soon be lost, buried by the falling snow or overridden by tire tracks. That’s okay -such signs don’t need to remain once their work is done. The encounter, not the sign, is what lasts – an impression and a message: surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.