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Both Sides (S)now

Has the rain a father? Or who has begotten the drops of dew? From whose womb has come the ice? And the frost of heaven, who has given it birth? Water becomes hard like stone, And the surface of the deep is imprisoned. (Job 38:28-30 NASB)

Snow is polarizing. On the one side, when those flakes start falling, there’s hope and delight in the hearts of most school-age children. (Just today, after two and a half weeks of snow, my grandson cheered at the thought of more!) On the other side, there’s foreboding in the heart of many a parent, or anyone who has to walk to catch a bus, or who lives on a hill—which is most of us in the Puget Sound area. My good friend, a parent of two boys, responded to news of yet another snow forecast with, “I’m so over snow!”

This duality reminds me of an old folk song. Joni Mitchell wrote of clouds, love and life in “Both Sides Now.” Clouds, she says, are “bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air.” But, on second thought, “they only block the sun, they rain and snow on everyone. So many things I could have done, but clouds got in my way.”

These past two weeks of snow have been just like that.

I loved stepping out my front door and bowing through the tunnel of snow-bent camellia to get the morning paper. Oh, no morning paper. I loved shoveling the driveway and sidewalk—good exercise in the refreshing air. Drenched in sweat, I smiled at my handiwork. Oh, but it’s impossible to take a walk because most of the sidewalks are still encased in lumpy ice. Everything went on hold as we babysat for the grandkids on many snow days. But we got to see so much of the boys that we got into a new rhythm of understanding and enjoying each other.

The second week of snow, rain piled on and broke several branches overhanging our driveway from the neighbor’s fir tree. That, and the extra nine inches of snow on top of the first nine inches of snow, made it impossible to get into our garage or even park on the driveway. We had to park way out on the cross street. Trudging home late from babysitting, dragging a duffle bag and backpack along the slippery roadway—what a pain! Yet, the sweet, cold air melted my crabbiness, and I couldn’t help enjoying the crunchy walk and the quiet of the night.

Joni Mitchell concludes, “It’s clouds’ illusions I recall. I really don’t know clouds at all.”

I feel the same way about snow. It’s a mystery to me, how tiny flakes of frozen water enchant and confound me at the same time. They humble me. They remind me that humans are not the masters of the universe. Psalmist David writes,

The heavens are telling the glory of God, And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their utterances to the end of the world. (Psalm 19:1-4 NASB)

I love the paradox—day to day pours forth speech, but there is no speech. That’s how it is with snow. In the beauty of sunrise over snowy hills, there is speech without speech. My heart hears and is moved to say, “I love you, Jesus. Your creation is amazing. You’re amazing!”

In the book of Job, Elihu says, “God thunders with His voice wondrously, doing great things which we cannot comprehend. For to the snow He says, ‘Fall on the earth.’ And to the downpour and the rain, ‘Be strong’” (Job 37:5-6 NASB).

Another Bible writer calls for praising the name of the Lord from, “Fire and hail, snow and clouds, stormy wind, fulfilling His word” (Psalm 148:8 NASB).

The Apostle Paul sounds the same theme, “Since the creation of the world, [God’s] invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made” Romans 1:20 (NASB).

Yes! It’s speech without words that speaks so eloquently of our Lord and Creator.

I really don’t know snow at all. But I do know that Jesus is speaking through it.

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