Sunday, March 1, 2009

As White As Snow

The New York Times has two articles recently about the new Kindle 2. The first one was on February 9. The second one was today. I’m impressed. My birthday is one week from today. Just saying. And now for a totally bumpy transition...

The SNOW is so beautiful! I think we got three to four inches here in Memphis, but I haven't heard anything official. I started taking pictures yesterday afternoon when it was first coming down.
I love the closeups of the tulip tree branches, but I hope those baby buds don’t freeze to death.

Here’s a huge tulip tree a couple of blocks from my house that’s in full bloom and now heavy-laden with snow. I’ll watch it’s progress over the next few weeks.

And last night as I approached the doors to St. John Orthodox Church for Vespers, the bell was still being draped in the falling snow.

That's John McGee, shoveling snow off the front steps so no one will fall coming inside.

And here’s the dogwood tree my daughter, Beth, planted with her Girl Scout troop when she was about 10 or 11 years old. All grown up and glowing. (The tree, and the daughter. She's 26 now.)

Every time I pass by that tree, I think about Beth. He she is, in her uniform at a meeting at St. John. (Did you other parents notice how shamelessly I slipped into that excuse for posting a picture of one of my kids?)

Today my next-door-neighbors' little girl was building a snowman. Here she is, beside her proud achievement.

And here’s her mom, interviewing her on her phone video. You can bet that’s going out to friends and family today!

This little snowman was spotted in front of a restaurant in midtown. We stopped to take a picture after lunch out with friends from church. I wonder which of the waiters sacrificed his tie and hat?

So, when I got home I just had to get into the act. So I built a tiny snow cowgirl and put my Build-A-Bear’s hat and boots on her. Voila!

(You’re wondering why someone my age has a Build-A-Bear, right? It was my daughter’s gift to me just before I had surgery in January of last year. Her name is “Scrubby,” and she went with me to the outpatient surgery center.)

The snow reminds me of the old hymn that says, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” Today is Forgiveness Sunday in the Orthodox Church. Tonight we’ll have Forgiveness Vespers. Here’s a nice, personal blog post (from 10 years ago) about Forgiveness Vespers, by Frederica Mathewes-Green. And for the more liturgical types out there, the complete service for Forgiveness Vespers is here. The most important thing is that we enter Great Lent without holding grudges. We get a clean start. Like the snow.

We’ll say to our fellow parishioners, face to face, one by one, “Please forgive me.” And as each of them asks our forgiveness, we will answer, “God forgives, and I forgive.” And we’ll exchange the kiss of peace. Well, it’s a hug, but it signifies peace.

I’ll send e-hugs out to my own three children and several Godchildren and dear Orthodox friends who live out of town, making sure we’re at peace as we enter this school of repentance that Great Lent is. Tomorrow. Clean Monday. And to all who are joining me on the journey—good Lent. And please forgive me.


Erin said...

I've really been enjoying all the photos from the Mid-South snow weekend. They've been coming in from everywhere: emails, Facebook, blogs, etc. Looks like everyone had so much fun. It's making me remember my childhood when snow days were magical, when life used to stop for snow and the world would seem suddenly and surprisingly clean and perfect. Sometimes I still wish for that. Instead, my boys get up on a Saturday morning, look out the window, say "Oh, mom, know what? It's snowing" and they go right on building with their Legos. Then when it's time to go somewhere, they dutifully put on their boots and hats and gloves and head out. That's what happened to us yesterday. Frequency destroys the magic. I wish I had the energy to bring it back. Oh well.

Susan Cushman said...

Your comments remind me of a favorite (old) book by Thomas Howard, "Splendor in the Ordinary," which was later retitled, "Hallowed Be This House." I think we have to train our senses (and our children's senses) to see the magic, the mystery, in the ordinary. You live where snow is ordinary, so it's lost its special-ness, or maybe it never even held that magical sway over your children that it did in your childhood in Memphis. I wonder if the beach would lose its magic for me if I lived there. This is also true with the spiritual world. At last night's Forgiveness Vespers, as the clergy changed all the vestments and altar cloths from white/gold to dark red and the music changed from major to minor keys and the lights were dimmed, all to signify our passage into the season of Great Lent, I was surprised to find my self weeping at the dark beauty of it all. A big part of that beauty, I think, lies in the fact that what I was watching, what I was participating in, only comes once a year. So the magic remains fresh. Or as you dad would say, the "mystery." It seems that the Orthodox Church, with its cycle of feasts and fasts, bright colors and dark ones, major keys and minor, has built in a way to help us not lose the magic, the mystery. The gold and white vestments had begun to bore me. After forty days of dark red, by Pascha, I will welcome their beauty anew. Now, if I could only find that beautiful rhythm with fasting! Good Lent, Erin, and thanks so much for commenting.

Erin said...

Oh, you can find that rhythm with fasting! We were all delighting this evening in eating our favorite dried fruits, raw veggies and nuts. I mean it! We were all excited to eat the foods we had chosen for this week. My 3yo said, "This is a funny dinner, but it sure is delicious!" It's all about sharing the excitement of the new and loving the delicious natural flavors of God's creation.

Susan Cushman said...

Thanks, Erin. I'm trying to catch your positive spirit!