Snow comes in silence. As I lie in bed I have no idea what is happening in the world outside my window. I wake to the surprise of a changed landscape, a softer surrounding. Everything I know to be out there is still there, but it is different. It is transformed and beautiful. Edges are less sharp. Lines are blurred. Trees glisten under the weight of snow.
As we dig out, we reconnect with our similarly confined neighbors. Those with snowblowers walk the length of the block sharing their bounty with others. Teenagers are dispatched with shovels and younger children build snowmen and snow forts. It feels like Christmas.
In preparing for Christmas in Italy, a family will assemble an intricate, detailed nativity scene called a presepe. This custom was started by our beloved St. Francis of Assisi on Christmas Eve 1223. The presepe goes beyond a mere stable to include a landscape of village and hillsides. In addition to Mary, Joseph, assorted shepherds and wise kings who have often arrived too early, are villagers going about their daily chores. The ordinary life of ordinary people is depicted. What is not immediately part of the display is the Christ child. In true Catholic tradition, the baby Jesus does not arrive until his appointed time of Christmas.
One tradition is to hide the babe somewhere in the village. Viewers are tasked with trying to find him, a subtle reminder that Jesus can be anywhere, even in the mundane and prosaic. The presepe is also a remembrance that our Lord was born without pomp. The greatest thing to happen to the human race occurred quietly one night. The next day, all but a handful of people went about their daily life with no change. Men and women labored. Children played. No one knew that the Son of God was in their midst and the world was going to change.
The Son of God is still in our midst. Men and women still labor. Children still play. Now we celebrate each year. As we search the presepe for the Christ child we also slow down and search the world for him. He is present in the people we encounter and the tasks we complete. Like a snowfall, Jesus brings beauty and unexpected joy. He softens the harshness of our lives. He connects us to others. Everything’s the same but so much better. He comes during the darkest time of the year and brings us hope and light.
If we still our minds and hearts, if we step back from the hustle, if we just pause and breathe, we will find him quietly beckoning to us, inviting us in.
The snow comes in silence.
So does Our Lord.
Copyright 2017 Merridith Frediani