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.   

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15 Responses

  1. Using a macro lens is a bit like paring it down – the narrow plane you can choose to use (as you did effectively here) forces you to decide what is essential.

    I love the photos and have never seen seedpods like those on the top and am jealous – I wanna shoot ’em!!

    And I very much like the frost on cement – the wonders of a narrow DOF!!

  2. Thanks Britt-Arnhild! I look forward to seeing what images you capture.

    Thank you Susan, staying indoors and making homeade chili sounds marvelous. Do you have a good recipe? Delighted to hear you will share the poem.

    Thanks Bette, I am not sure what it is, it is actually really small and I have seen it poking out of this green bush for the last month and I have been eager to use my lens on it. That top photo I especially love. It looks like the bottom plants are holding up a snow offering. The gargoyle sits with a twin in front of a beautiful mansion on the way to the park. Traveling light through life is a wonderful practice!


  3. Oh Christine, these photos are breathtaking. What IS that plant in the top two pics? Such feathery beauty that has captured me so. And the Way the bottom two plants hold the snow, just makes my heart melt. Congrats on your new camera lens.

    In addition to the photo-gift, thank you for the Instructions poem. When I travel I am reminded of the simple things in life – I pack light (my husband would argue that), I only bring one or two books, I put my amenities into smaller containers, a couple pairs of shoes, etc… So I suppose there is a message for us all to travel more often! And when we come home, the rule would be to take inventory of what we really do not need and toss it or give away :)

    Blessings to you and Thank you so much for this message and art-gifts today.

  4. Those are lovely pictures, Christine. Thank you so much! We have snow in Minnesota today, too…first of the season! Luckily, I have nothing to do outside my home so I will just hole up and make chile in the crockpot.

    I am going to take that poem to my Spritual Direction Reunion this weekend. We focus on living with the seasons and i think it would resonate with many of us!

  5. Thanks Karla, I really enjoyed playing with my new toy and am excited about the possibilities it holds for some of my creative projects. Actually I have to admit that I wrote this post yesterday afternoon and then post-dated it, so it is only an illusion that I woke up early. In fact I slept until 8:30 and my dog and sweetie are still in bed. :-) Overnight shifts must be really hard.

    Thank you Cathleen. It is easier to look for the essence when it is our choice, when things are stripped away it becomes more painful to see the paring down as gift. Yet I believe that the sacred dwells in all those moments as holy possibility.

    Blessings on this lovely morning, Christine

  6. As I looked at your photos, I wondered if you had a new zoom lense! Such beauty. We have only ice here, and a snow day which delights my daughter!
    I wonder if this season really is about paring down for me, some I let go of, some is taken away. Thank you for the gentle reminder/invitation to find the essence is this season. Blessings.

  7. I can only think of one word to say: WOW! This is beautiful Christine! Thanks for the morning cheer, the encouragement, the heartfelt reminder to simplify! I needed this this morning, as I wrap up my overnight shift! Also wow…you’re up really early this morning! It’s only 6:30 here! Have a blessed and peaceful day! –Karla

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