It is a wonderland of white, giving the phrase “new-fallen snow” its beauty and luster in the blanket that covers the imperfections of our barren world. There’s no sun in the sky this morning, only a blustering wind bearing small proofs of the season. The grass almost hides it, and the driveways look almost woolen. The trees hold up their empty arms and embrace the wind, the snow, the slate of the sky.

I am reminded that it is Advent, the season of Hope. I hope for things small and things small; for trivial everyday matters and for large eternal matters; for those nestled under my arm and for those who are hundreds of miles away. I hope we have a safe Christmas trip. I hope I get everything done that needs doing before we leave. I hope I remembered everyone with my shopping, and I hope I get everything shipped in time to be tucked under a tree. I hope I can live this Advent the way I want, closer to the Reason for our expectancy, closer to the Joy that’s coming, closer to the Call we all receive.

I see the snow, and I think about dear Susan, who’s having a rough week and who has found, in moving south, that she misses the snow a lot. The warmth of my sweater reminds me of Aunt Gardiner, who lives in the mountains and ponders deep thoughts as she writes poetry and makes scientific discoveries. The beauty of the landscape reminds me of my dear Bob, who loves this land the way great writers have explained – and especially Steinbeck – and who sacrifices so much so that we can be here, on a farm, with the joys and hurdles of country living. The movement of the snow reminds me of our too-fast march to Christmas, which the outside world won’t let me forget, and it inspires a prayer of thanksgiving, for all we have, for the joy of Hope, for all we have yet to receive.

The snow coats everything it can, but some things, like the salted roadways, rebuff it and cause it to melt. Its beauty is instantly gone, diminished, a memory, and it becomes just a nuisance and a driving hazard. It makes white puffs of my eyelashes and coats the edges of our coats. We’re bundled up, and memories of sledding and snowmen dance in my head.

There’s nothing like new snow for giving me hope. In the face of despair or a world gone haywire, new snow – and especially first snow, during Advent – makes me step back and just smile. There is time for all the rest later. For now, let me just look out my window, huddled with a warm drink and cuddled into a wool sweater, and follow the rabbit trails of my mind.