I am walking my son to the bus stop. We are greeted with the sights and sounds of winter's first snow. It is before we have grown jaded and bitter toward its punishing storms and winds and snow that turns brown and slushy and problematic. Every tree and surface is covered with a light and fluffy white powder. Not great for snowballs and snowmen, but perfect for snow angels. We are early enough in the season for it to still feel magical.
Indeed this time of year almost always does feel that way for me. Everything is covered in twinkling lights and powdery white. And people of almost any faith recall a time and plan anew for a season of hope and miracles. December has always been a most miraculous time. It marks the season in my life when I labored with both my children on the same date, in different years: December 14.
I think often of my miracles. Of the ones I am surrounded with, of the one growing inside me right now. I think about what a miracle it is that knowing how tenuous, how painful, fleeting and challenging and complex of an emotion love can be, we continue to open ourselves up to it; to the possibility of loving, of being loved. We do this with full knowledge that there are no guarantees of how it will end, that almost certainly, by virtue of the fact that we've shared a piece of our heart, we risk and even invite wounding it. We expose it. For me, this is the true miracle of the season. The miracle of knowing all of this and ever loving at all.
In the midst of it all, I cannot help but think of a community not so very far from my own who dared to love. December 14 marks a very different day for them. And for too many of them, their exposed hearts lay raw and bare, open on their chests. There are sisters and mothers and friends and children who are gone, taken too soon. And yet the people they've left behind are still standing, breathing, living and continuing to believe in the possibility of love in the face of such loss.
My mother was fond of saying that the only reason people ever have more than one child is that they forget how hard childbirth was to begin with. That the best parts of loving and raising a child erase the painful memories and make it possible to do it again. Likewise, I wonder if perhaps the only reason we ever open our hearts again and again to children and spouses and friends and neighbors and sisters and daughters is because the joy and thrill of loving again, of having loved at all, almost always triumphs over the pain of love's loss. I am thinking of this and of Newtown as I stare at my two snow bunnies. For me, this is the true miracle of the season.
It is afternoon. We are walking home from the bus stop. The snow is slightly more muddied and beaten down, but still a touch magical. They skip home gleefully, blissfully unaware of any imperfections. My heart swells with pride, so much so that I think it might burst in a combined state of total love and admiration, as well as fear that I must share them with a world I cannot control. That by sharing them with others, I risk my heart. But I feel the powdery white wet stuff slip through my fingers. It feels cool and magical. I surround myself with it and honor the season as it deserves: with wonder and a celebration of the miracle of ever knowing and loving them at all; of life itself.