Shadows In The Snow

by Cynthia Johnson on March 1, 2015

It was early afternoon yesterday as I stood gazing out my office window.  The sun was bright and intense across my snow covered back yard. The snow had a sheen that made it look more like marshmallow crème then snow.  The street side of my house is lined with five poplar trees that are nearing their end.  Last year when they were trimmed we were told they should really come down; we asked them to trim the dead off for now and let us think about it, we just weren’t ready to let them go.  I planted each one myself, frail little seedlings you could barely see that now tower over the house providing much needed shade in the summer as well as a cascading blanket of gold in the fall, not to mention home to the squirrels and many different birds.  I have watched huge flocks of starlings stop for a respite on their way to somewhere else.  I just can’t imagine the trees not being there.   But I know like everything their time will eventually come to an end.

As I was staring through the glass, I noticed the trees were casting horizontal gray shadows across the snow; I thought about how our own shadows become so prominent in winter as well.   As I write this, it is the first day of March but bitterly cold, icy and snowy.  We are stuck inside and that often takes us into ourselves.   Like the shadows of the trees against the white snow, we, ourselves, are prominent; standing out against the limitations of a late winter storm. The last few weeks seem to have brought about a collective fatigue, a physical one.  Everyone seems to be saying the same thing, and I myself am no exception.  My energy has been low.  Can there be anything worse than a body that is tired and a mind that is not?  I suppose for myself I can always amuse myself with reading, listening to music or writing.  I find the darker days of winter to be a fertile time for writing and creativity in general.

In the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray, Murray’s character finds he is living the same day over and over again.  He takes this opportunity to learn new things, since the day (or weather in our case) is already known.  Today we have the opportunity to either find something new inside or gripe about the outside for which we cannot change.  And in the novel The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, the devil’s highly placed assistant named Screwtape, writes a letter to his nephew Wormwood (a devil in training), who has been placed in charge of securing the damnation of an ordinary human man. In the letter Screwtape writes about “the horror of the same old thing” referring to human beings absolute need for novelty.  Our desire for change leads to infidelity and boredom even within the changing of the seasons.  It is natural for humans to wish for something new including the cool fall when we are in the heat of summer, and the  warmth of spring in the depth of winter.  But the spring weather we are wishing for is the same spring we wished for last winter; this desire for something else, is precisely the weakness Screwtape schools his nephew to use against his young victim he is trying to claim as a member of the underworld.   Ahh, good old fashioned boredom; it can be the catalyst for great inventions or it can drag us down into the pits of hell.

Truly spring is not far away, in fact I have a feeling this snowy cold Sunday will probably not even stay in our memory.  Most of us will be asking each other next year, what the weather was like this year all while pining for spring, the same spring we are dreaming of now.  Everything passes, only to come around again.  The last few weekends of winter have certainly shown that to be true.  Next weekend brings daylight savings time, and we will be granted an extra hour of daylight in the evening, but will lose that light in the morning temporarily.  Still, we will derive a little satisfaction from the novelty of extra daylight at least until the summer sun begins to melt the memory of winter and we find ourselves hiding from the sun and dreaming of the coolness of fall.  Our human life is an interesting one and I myself, do not find the “same old thing” horrible at all.  They are the things we can count on.   They give us a foundation to maintain ourselves. Wishing everyone the warmth of a heart full of love and home for it spill over into on this snowy March day.

Until next time,

Cynthia

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