by Fr. Eddie Doherty.
Dear God, Loving Father of us all,
The snow falls softly today. The flakes dance and whirl. They flutter and hesitate as they near the earth, trying to pick out a likely place to land. Then they drift to it, or as close to it as the boorish wind will let them.
The snowflakes speak of God, of moisture seeping into the soil to kiss to life the seeds in spring. The snowflakes speak of the Immaculate Mary and of the graces that sift down to us through her holy hands.
Children play in the snow like saints in Mary’s graces. People ride through the powdery nights to sing to neighbors about the little town of Bethlehem and the Child laid in a manger. People invite them in for steaming cups of tea or coffee. People sometimes sing carols with them.
This morning, Lord, by your grace, I shuffled a short way up the road, taking it easy, my boots making the first tracks in your nice, new fall of snow. I was a fugitive from a cyclone of Christmas preparations. My room swarmed with women cleaning and dusting and scrubbing.
I sauntered down to the kitchen, and there were women besieging a gigantic turkey and several hams with fearful, shiny weapons. Women were icing cookies—Christmas trees and wise men, the Baby Christ and legions of fat angels.
Even the chapel, where the men were painting the floor, was out of bounds.
Outside the snow was light, invigorating. The wind was man-sized, but the day wasn’t really cold. Let it be recorded that December 21 was a pleasant sort of day.
You kept sifting your flakes upon me, Lord, like a storm of blessings. You kept fanning the wind in my direction. It caressed me. It whispered of you. It smelled of heaven and of pine. I kept trudging on, thinking about the way we prepare for Christmas.
We make a fuss about it; and we want the whole, hostile world to feel deeply about it. It is an effort in our day to "keep Christ in Christmas." Some of us seem to think we are doing you a favor in celebrating the birthday of your Son. We forget that you give us infinitely more each morning in the Mass than we can ever repay.
We forget that, in the Mass, you do not simply hand us the Baby, as Mary did when she put him into the arms of Simeon the prophet. You fill us with him. Every day, really, is Christmas Day to us!
The snow stopped. So did the wind. And so did I. And at that moment, the sun, which had been skulking, sent the gray clouds sprawling out of its impatient path and showed me a world of radiance and glory.
The hieroglyphics my feet had carved into the snow sparkled and gleamed and glittered. The road turned into a lane of powdered amethysts and sapphires and emeralds and diamonds.
The evergreens stood out boldly in the glare, their ruffles trimmed with ermine. These were the candy-sprinkled Christmas tree cookies of our kitchen, transformed and brought to life. And over them floated the snow-white, shining clouds, the banners of the Lord.
Sun-happy blue jays shrieked their appreciation and their thanks. I was too full of words to speak, too full of thoughts to think. I was the only silent jay.
This was a Christmas present I had not expected, Lord, and it was wrapped exquisitely, even divinely. How could I adequately have thanked you?
Your grateful jay
—From Getting to Know God, pp. 142-143, available from Madonna House Publications.
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