These past few days here in Vermont the world was so incredibly white that is seemed as if we were all living in heaven. I had to conclude that if heaven is a visual experience, then it must be like this; it must be laden with this much beauty. The ceiling of the sky was low and white; the trees hung heavy with snow. Lots of snow. And snow fell from the sky for days, mostly slowly, snow-globe-like. Driving to Stowe (with far less speed than usual), as I do now several days a week, became a nearly intoxicating experience. The red barns along the way were about the only things popping out of the white. This, I believe, is what this time of year is supposed to be: slower, whiter, quieter.
During these days we have been waiting for my friends', Julianne and Didier's, baby to arrive. So we have the sweet anticipation of impending birth.
My God, is someone writing a script here?
The whiteness of a world like this allows one's senses a kind of rest, freeing up space for the mind to think of other things, like the shortening of the days that will soon bring us to the solstice and the well of amazingness we have in our friends and family, who seem to be just a little closer in our hearts right now. On Thursday my brother was part of a group of people from the San Francisco firm he works for who rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange. I can't say that I'm a huge fan of Wall Street or of money making money for rich folks to get richer, but in our family this was a proud moment. To know that my little brother, who is brilliant and kind and gentle and one of the hardest-working people I know, had arrived where he had hoped to be after many years of many, many long work days, was a comforting feeling and a proud moment for the O'Briens. Soon my sister will come down from her Alaskan perch with her two boys, Lars and Quinn, and I will be able to wrap my arms around another of my all-time best-loved humans. It's been too long.
One of the important scripture readings of this season is the Mark, Chapter 13 one about staying awake: Therefore, keep awake...or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. It's not as apocalyptic a reading as some suggest, like something bad is going to happen if you're sleeping on the job. It's more about keeping aware and being ok with the thought that a change is gonna come. It's a really beautiful entreaty, actually: live your life with your senses open wide...things are coming that you're going to want to know about.
Around here it's snow and babies and hard-earned rewards and sisters. To hold and to love; to appreciate and to marvel upon. To be in. To be in all of it right now, alive and awake.
Blessings of the season.