Visit the Abbey of the Arts online retreat platform to access your programs:

Snowy Wonder

Last Wednesday night it snowed and then the temperatures dropped down below freezing so schools were closed because of icy roads and Thursday my husband and I had the surprise gift of a day off together.  We walked up to Volunteer Park and delighted in snowy wonder.  It is unusual for Seattle to get any snow at all so people are unprepared when it happens, although this is the second time in a month and a half we have had this front of arctic air move in, and the third time for unusual and severe weather patterns.  So I finally got to experiment and play with my new macro/zoom lens that a reader recommended to me (Thanks John!). 

This continues to be a time of flowering and gift.  I am finding God in snowy days, in sweet old dogs, in cooking a meal.  I continue to feel the invitation to pare down, to really be present to that which no longer serves me.  The God of Winter drawing me inward, reminding me of life’s essence.  Then I receive this poem which gives the instructions so clearly:


Give up the world; give up self; finally, give up God.
Find god in rhododendrons and rocks,
passers-by, your cat.
Pare your beliefs, your absolutes.
Make it simple; make it clean.
No carry-on luggage allowed.
Examine all you have
with a loving and critical eye, then
throw away some more.
Repeat. Repeat.
Keep this and only this:
   what your heart beats loudly for
   what feels heavy and full in your gut.
There will only be one or two
things you will keep,
and they will fit lightly
in your pocket.

-Sheri Hostetler, A Cappella: Mennonite Voices in Poetry

What does your heart beat loudly for?  What feels full in your gut?  Can you wrap yourself in love and the wisdom of intuitive knowing?  Can you take the time to linger over snowy mornings and discover a world of grace?

-Christine Valters Paintner

PS –

I love that the gargoyle has a little snow cap and a touch of snow on his nose.   

You might also enjoy

Monk in the World Guest Post: Meg Munro

I am delighted to share another beautiful submission to the Monk in the World guest post series from the community. Read on for Meg Munro’s reflection and paintings on her relationship with the Beloved Mother-Virgin. I had been despairing that my passion for painting was

Read More »

15 Responses

  1. Wow Bette, you’re really good! Great to know the name and that it even connects with the theme.

    Me, thanks for making the connections with the lens and the theme as well. Very true! It was fun to experiment with. I love the frost as well, kind of amazing the patterns it makes.

    Hi Hannah, Thank you! Yes, the snow does do something magical. I think a ferry commute would be a most marvelous way to begin and end the day, such slowness and beauty to breathe in.

    Blessings, Christine

  2. Hi Christine,

    I’m loving these photos…especially the delicate flower remnants. And the snow does something incredible to everything…softening edges and stopping time.

    I am lucky enough to travel to work by ferry, so every morning I go intown I enjoy watching mists lifting, waves arching, sunlight kissing the mountains or peeking through clouds, and relections dancing on the water. I have begun to bring my camera with me so I can capture a few of these moments. I use my time on the boat to reflect on the mysteries of the unknowable and the inspiring natural beauty of Seattle.

    Have a lovely time in the snow!
    warmly, Hannah