Snow Viewing: Lantern Optional

Today so far I’ve moved from one window to the next, staring at the stark whiteness draping the trees outside. It’s the Biggest Snow since we moved here 35 years ago, about a foot and a half.  I’m stunned into silence with wonder of it, with the ineffable beauty of contrasts. The fifty or so large oak trees visible from my window have exchanged their emerald capes for something softer and less enduring.

The beauty is so exquisite that I can’t seem to breathe it in for very long at all without wanting to own it. I try a little photo shoot with my phone. Doesn’t even begin to touch it. Then I imagine a tapestry, a frieze of this freeze. Still trying to hold it tight before it goes. Which it will.

Next thing I know I’m online looking at Japanese Snow Viewing Lanterns (Yukimi doro). Hundreds (or thousands) of years old, they serve a valuable role in Japanese gardens. I figure the early zen guys knew something about savoring beauty.

I know! Maybe I can get ahold of one of these babies. Then I’ll be able to focus on the grandeur of the melting snow, breaking it down to a smaller frame. That’s the ticket!

My mind goes down a traveled loop. Maybe if I buy something (or sign up for an online snow viewing class) … I can learn to savor this. Only problem is, these little wonders are granite, and even if I ordered it to be dropped by a drone from Amazon, it wouldn’t have been installed in time to get the actual effect. So I’m stuck with the raw beauty as it is, without refinement.

Then I get it. My job is this … to simply let beauty stop me and strike me mute. To let it clear the palette of all the habitual loops. To let the hubbub drop and be brought back to silence. To allow myself this, without having to purchase it or consume it.

I get lucky. The power goes out. Everything in the town is closed down. No excuses. Nothing to do. Nowhere to go.

Slowly all those loops unravel. By taking in all the beauty, my mind becomes more clear. My new job is to cooperate with stillness. Some days this is more than I believe I can handle. But not today.

Amazing how the world delivers just what we need, right on time.

What about you? What do you do when the world hands you just what you need? How do you avoid it? How do you cooperate? How will you cooperate this week?


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