My wife and I wanted to share New Year’s Eve with our eldest daughter. She lives in New Hampshire and we live in East Tennessee, the solution was simple — road trip!
The trip started a couple of days before New Year’s Eve, and we would return home a few days after New Year’s. For the first several hundred miles, the trip was through rain, heavy rain, light rain, drizzle, heavy rain, but several hundred miles through rain. Following a night in a motel, we began the second day of the trip in snow, some light, some significant, but hours and hours of snow.
As evening approached, that is when the joy and beauty of the snow became manifest and the glory of God’s handiwork became more readily discernable.
Thank You, God
While it is true that perhaps most of the occupants of a bi-directional stream of headlights and tail lights were simply trying to get from one place to another, I would like to think that at least a few of the occupants may have had the opportunity to view the landscape and say ‘Thank you, God’ for the beauty of the evening.
As the flakes fell into the beam of the headlights, they became twinkling lights themselves. The flakes would gather and cling to the branches of trees and gave the appearance of so much white cotton candy. The vehicles were beginning to appear to be puffs of marshmallow.
As the evening went along, the speed of the vehicles on the roadway dropped further and further. It became apparent that this normally two-day trip was destined to become a three-day trip. Not an issue, watching the storm through the window of a restaurant attached to another motel was the catalyst for thinking about various quotes dealing with the beauty of nature and God.
God’s Handwriting in Nature
One of the first quotes I can recall which deals with God’s work in nature is from Scripture:
But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being.- Job 12: 7 – 10
The early morning of the last day of our trip was precious. Cold air, glistening snow, and a somewhat deepening pile of snow near the car as the gathered snow was removed from the windshield, roof, hood and trunk. Overnight, the roadway had been treated with brine, salt, plows, and the labor of thousands of people who were there to assure that the roadways would be safe to travel.
The melted snow and ice formed slush which passing cars would throw onto the windshield and render visibility impossible for several seconds until the wipers were able to move the slush. The sides of the roadways were still glorious as the trees remained covered, the hills had softened and the graffiti which may have been painted on the rocks along the roads was covered by pillows of white.
God In Nature
I arise today
Through the strength of heaven:
Light of sun,
Radiance of moon,
Splendour of fire.
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of wind,
Depth of sea,
Stability of earth,
Firmness of rock. Saint Patrick
Perhaps the majority of the drivers were still seeing the storm as something to be endured, something of a disruption to their lives, and something that can be overcome. My reaction was to look up and say ‘Thank you’ for the beauty that had been unleashed on this little section of the world.
God is the Friend of Silence
From inside a warm vehicle, looking out beyond the cars trying to get to their destinations, I was trying to recall a quote from Mother Theresa dealing with the stillness that was present a few dozen yards from the sea of vehicles traveling on the roadway. I could not build the quote from the few fragments I could recall. It was not until a couple of days later that I was able to do some research on-line to locate the quote I needed…
“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature – trees, flowers, grass- grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.” Mother Teresa.
The return trip home was without any incident at all, and unfortunately, much of the scenery had returned to its Winter shades of gray as the snow had either melted from the sun or had been displaced by the wind.
When we got home, we were greeted by a snow storm which had blanketed much of East TN and the adjoining states. Being retired, I can take my time when shoveling, I need not race off to work, I can take a leisurely walk with the dog in the newly fallen snow and use the time to say ‘Thank you’ and meditate, pray and reflect on the landscape.
The next time you are distressed about “another miserable snow storm” simply take a minute and go for a bit of gratitude for the beauty He has given us that moment. To me, ‘gratitude’ is a contraction of the words, great and attitude.