I wake to snow. It’s not unexpected, but as I stand at the window in the wee hours and look out over it I am struck by the magic. And reminded of an excerpt from The Presence of Absence that rungs as true today as when I wrote it.
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It’s not yet six in the morning and I’ve been awake for a couple of productive hours. I stand at the window and look down into a backyard buried in pristine snow, unmarred by deer tracks or anything else, and see magic in the moonlight. The snow sparkles as if sprinkled with fairy dust like the snow of my prairie childhood. It’s the snow I shuffled through, with frozen toes in too-small winter boots, on my way to school. It’s the snow we fell into, waving arms and legs to make snow angels, that we waddled Charlie Chaplin-like in to make tractor tracks with our boot prints, and that made my wool mittens heavy with ice baubles. It’s the snow I saw when I looked out our front room window on Christmas morning, convinced the wintery world had become enchanted throughout the silent, holy night. There was always something different about the way the snow-blanketed yard and street in front of our house looked on December 25th. I saw it well into adulthood. Then my world went dark, the magic left, and while I look for it every year, it’s never been that way again. Now, I think if it wasn’t so cold, I’d go outside and dance in it.
I tiptoe to the kitchen, pour soy milk into a glass, and put it in the microwave. As red numbers count down from seventy-seven and the Keurig coughs and spurts out elixir behind me, I pray. Oh God, you have brought me in safety to this new day. That thing in my body that’s been causing me trouble still burns, that concern in my heart for that person—no, persons—still weighs on me, and that other thing I’ve been procrastinating about still nags, but right here, right now, before the savage animals of the day come at me with teeth barred and low growls deep in their throat, I pause. In all I do, direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose.
Yesterday, I saw a sparrow sitting on a branch of the leafless lilac tree in our backyard. There was something about the bird and the branches and I thought of the Creator. It was a sweet moment that passed like a whisper, one of those thin moments when heaven touches earth. And now, here in the kitchen where the only light comes from the hydroponic garden where tiny blushing tomatoes grow and ripen, and the only sound comes from my practised steps as I prepare a perfect cup of morning coffee, I think of that tiny sparrow.
When the countdown gets to zero, I take the warm milk out of the microwave, froth it, and pour it into the cup of coffee. You hear my simple prayers and grant me the sweetness of your presence. I pad back to the bedroom with my mug of coffee in hand and Maya raises her tiny head. Her Yorkie eyes follow me. Gerry still slumbers. I set my coffee cup on the bedside table, climb back into bed, and reach for my tablet to tap out a few words. Day begins. Have mercy.
(In honour of Adoption Awareness Month, both The Presence of Absence: A Story About Busyness, Brokenness, and Being Beloved and my first memoir, Two Hearts: An Adoptee’s Journey Through Grief to Gratitide, are available on Kindle for $1.99.)