It has been cold. Some mornings are as cold as 10 degrees. It has snowed, but not enough to cover the ground. Just enough to make you notice the cold.  I’ve dug my sweaters and sweatshirts out of hiding in the back of the closet. I bought a space heater because I just couldn’t seem to keep my hands and feet warm. In dire situations, I resorted to a hot shower to warm up. I’ve hardly been outside in weeks. Some days, I just sit and gaze out the window. On other days I bundle up layer upon layer, rush to the car, crank on the heat and seat warmers and run from one indoor errand to another.

But today a good, deep snow fell, and just like when I was little, I couldn’t wait to be the first one to get out there and make footprints- the first footprints in the fresh white landscape of snow. My granddaughters were visiting and I told them how special it was when I was their age to be the first one out in the yard to make prints and patterns all over the white snow. They could feel my excitement but had that indulgent look that said they weren’t sure it was the greatest of ideas.

Nonetheless, they humored me. We got on our ski pants and coats. Wrapped scarves around our necks. Stuffed our hands in gloves and our feet in boots. We were ready.

I stood at the door- “On your mark, get set, go!” I shouted and we all tumbled out the door. I grabbed their hands and helped them down the steps and then we were off- running, swirling, laughing. Ellie fell on a slippery spot and a tear slid down her cheek. I plopped down next to her, gave her a quick hug, and then showed her how to make snow angels. We made a choir of angels all across the yard. We held hands and made twin angels. We made rows of angles and circles of angels. We sang as we made angels…” Hark the herald angels sing” ……..

Finally, after a bit, we started to notice how cold our hands and feet were. With a bit of reluctance, we headed for the door, climbed the porch steps, and then turned to survey our work. The yard was filled with footprints and angels and the landscape looked alive. “Look at all our art, Granny,” Ellie said with a smile that filled her whole face. And indeed, it was art. The art of being alive. The art of stepping out of the box. The art of love and laughter and time spent together.

I made hot chocolate with whipped cream and we sat at the table by the window and warmed our hands as we laughed and talked. Together we had ventured out in the cold, only to find that the heart is what really warms us up!

While it is still winter and much time is spent inside, I have this day to remind me that all seasons have offerings to give. The quiet of that first snow was a blessing and the laughter and fun were a gift. I think that as the winter days wear on, I will hold this day in my heart and wear those smiles like a warm sweater.

May your winter days be filled with love, laughter, and connection.

 A practice to try:

Metta Meditation

Find a comfortable seat.

(This can be a chair or a cushion, it is up to you. If you are practicing as a family you can make a circle. )

It is especially nice to sit where you can look out the window or sit in the sunshine.

These verses can be repeated silently, said out loud or you can pick someone in your group to read them.

For you: (Think these words for you. Try placing your hands on your heart.)

May you be safe.

May you be healthy.

May you be warm.

May you live a life of joy and peace.

For those you love:

May you be safe.

May you be healthy.

May you be warm.

May you live a life of joy and peace.

For someone or a group of people that you are unhappy with or that make you sad:

May they be safe.

May they be healthy.

May they be warm.

May they live a life of joy and peace.

For the world:

May those in the world be safe.

May those in the world be healthy.

May those in the world be warm.

May those in the world live a life of joy and peace.

The darkness will become deep. The cold will fill this time. It may seem long and dreary and you may even feel sad and alone. But the sun will come and warm the earth and hope is just around the corner.

I hope that in this time of cold and darkness you will find your hope in the fresh footprints in the snow or the laughter of those you love.

Merry Christmas!