Snow and Silence

Snow and Silence

It’s been snowing here in the wilds of Illinois – the first serious snow of the season, although it didn’t last as long as anticipated. Yesterday morning, I got to exercise unaccustomed muscles as I did my neighborly duty and cleared the front pavement. By the time I finished, the back porch and path had acquired another inch, which is significant when the deck is 8’ x 15’, and the garden gate is 35’ away.

Usually Saturday is full of activity: we drive to have breakfast at the café at 7am, followed by grocery shopping until the library opens at 9am. Then there’s the farmer’s market (indoor market until April), a light lunch, and cooking for a dinner party in the evening. Saturdays are delightfully full of contacts, cooking, chocolate, and conversation.

Yesterday, however, was quite different. There’d been a winter storm warning, so everyone was already stocked up with necessities. The snow started at midnight, and continued, soft but relentless, until lunchtime. Anyone with sense stayed off the roads until the plows had done at least a preliminary pass. Traffic was nonexistent; the streets and shops were quiet, and there was no sun to bring liveliness to the day. Sky, air, and earth – everything was shrouded in white silence.

In the spiritual world, we are always being encouraged to turn from the distractions of daily life to the inner landscape. The Vedas refer to the ‘sea of silence’ similar to the Christian ‘void’ from which all manifestation comes. Yesterday’s weather muffled the world in a physical expression of that silence and void, bringing a natural interval of introspection. Somehow the mental chatter diminished with the lack of distraction from exterior sources. Once the sidewalk was clear, there was nothing to do outside, no rushing about required or even possible. Glancing out the window into the back garden brought no stimulation, with nothing but swirling snow in the air and on the ground. Instead of boredom, this brought a certain peace of mind, the internal equivalent of bringing down the volume control on the inner monologue. In the end, the snow truly brought peace and tranquility to the inner as well as the outer landscape.

Today, well, the snow has stopped, the roads are clear, and there is always more cooking to be done. A friend is coming to lunch, and I plan to dine with my friend round the corner, for which I am making a rich mushroom gravy. Meanwhile, a galette is in the oven, filling the house with the scent of puff pastry and marzipan. After the silence of yesterday, we pick up the strands of life and society, refreshed and reset, and ready for a fresh start, like the tracks across the newly fallen snow.