It is starting to snow again. And while there is a part of me that is delighted, I am also a tiny bit afraid. There is nothing like big snow storms to remind us how fragile life really is.
The snow storm started on Friday afternoon. We were well stocked with food and milk and wood. We had plenty of movie and board games. We hoped that we would have Monday off from school. We planned fun things to do that were in walking distance of home, planned to leave the cars at home. We dreamed of being shut in.
When we woke on Saturday at 7am the outside had been transformed into a winter wonderland. I lit a fire, read, waited for Max to wake so I could make pancakes. We set out to do a shoveling pass of the driveway and front walkway when the noises began, the buzzy, echoey loud sounds of transformers popping. And then, by 9am the power was gone.
As I shoveled I felt the panic just under the surface percolate. The snow had just started. We had already a foot and it seemed to be falling even faster. There was suddenly nowhere to put the snow I kept clearing from the path. Suddenly, being inside felt like being trapped by the snow that fell faster and faster. We went in only to change wet clothes by the fire and we felt the temperature in the house drop. So I breathed. And I shoveled and I leaned into the wind. And then, when half our firewood was gone by 3pm we packed a backpack and set out to find friends with power.
We found them, half a mile away. Suddenly, together in the company of several families in front of a fire, the panic lifted. The growing darkness felt festive not frightening once more. For three days we huddled together, in shifting combinations, with several families in our tribe. We laughed and played games. We socialized and were still. We walked and carried firewood and cooked and read and sat in a line working on our laptops on the one remaining wireless connection. And as the lights came back on, we all drifted back home.
And now, as the snow starts to fall again, I feel it. That sense of dread that could mean that it might all fall apart again. I feel the fear that arises from the possibility that we could be stuck, trapped, walled in with snow. And I can’t imagine how it felt in the ancient days when winter snow and ice meant darkness, quiet, stillness for days, weeks, even months on end.
The gift of storms like these is the discovery of the meaning of yin. Quiet and internal and solitary…and sometimes paralyzingly fearful. Our society has no space for such a still way of being. We keep the lights burning, we connect in thousands of different ways. We watch the storms on radar as they pass above us. But how can we gain courage without moments such as these?
The gift of the storm is a chance, even in this modern go-go society to touch the deep unknowing that comes when you are alone, in the snow wondering where you should go. The gift of that deep unknowing is the chance to touch the trust that arises when we allow ourselves to be so still. The kind of trust that allows you to set off, on foot, through 20 inches knowing you will find home again.