A Few Feet Closer to the Sun

Yesterday the snow was like a carpet of diamonds.

I’ve always loved snow. We had plenty of it in my growing-up years in Pennsylvania. But that didn’t prepare me for four college winters in Maine. From October to March, cafeteria trays were our makeshift sleds for hurtling down the small mountain on the edge of our campus, and a pair of cross-country skis took me at night into the silence of the woods that surrounded it. Some days we had to walk through tunnels of snow to get to our classes.Sun on snow

But I’ve never seen anything like yesterday. The morning temperature was 10 degrees, with wind chill below zero—unusual in these North Carolina mountains. The snow had fallen overnight in large crystals, and the effect was stunning: a mountainside sparkling with dazzling radiance, as if strewn with precious gems. Bundled up against the weather, I lingered at the scene until my toes began to go numb and I couldn’t resist the call of the fireplace, a warm afghan, and a mug of hot lemon-ginger tea at home.

On my walk this morning, I felt a twinge of disappointment and sadness. The temperature is up, and a bit of melt has shrunk the ice crystals. Although still beautiful, the snow didn’t take my breath away. I followed the tracks of a rabbit for a while through the pasture, and then the footprints of the gorgeous red fox that lives in an underground burrow above the pond. I noted the hieroglyphics left by a couple of wild turkeys by the creek and then headed into the forest, still in awe of the deep silence that drops on the world when it is blanketed in snow.

I was walking up to the final ridge near home when I spied today’s surprise gift. Tiny gleams of blue, green, and purple greeted me on the path up ahead. Sprinkled among them were larger glints of red, orange, and gold. The ice crystals were just the right sizes, and the sunlight was at just the right angle, to present this scattered, glistening rainbow.

I wish I could show you a picture of it. But the only cameras I own are the one in my brain and the one in my early-model, less-than-smart phone. It’s a conscious choice. I know myself well enough to realize that if I owned a real camera, I would spend much of my time trying to capture the perfect picture rather than living into the mystery and beauty of each moment as it comes. So instead I will say “Go and see for yourself.” Keep your eyes open to the magic that surrounds you.

Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of the current regime in Washington, and there’s plenty of justifiable outrage going around about the state of our nation. But we have endured, and resistance has sprung up everywhere. Two observations stay with me from my recent treks in the snow. First, I discovered that the most astounding and resplendent beauty comes from variety—different colors, sizes, shapes, angles, and efforts working together—to brighten the forest floor as well as the corners in our world where despair threatens to take up residence. Second, when I approached to look more closely at the rainbow, it disappeared from where I first saw it and moved out ahead of me. No matter where I stood, it was always a few feet closer to the sun. Always pointing a way forward, paving the path with the light of hope and the promise of change.


17 thoughts on “A Few Feet Closer to the Sun

  1. I love the visuals, Joyce – no need for a camera after all! Also love the reminders about perspective; that’s what being in nature always does for me, and it’s always a welcome nudge. Thanks for your words!


  2. Oh, Joyce, this is beautiful. On many levels. Your “camera” is your gift as wordsmith. You help us see what you see. Thank you for the reminders of diversity as source of beauty & goodness, and that the light goes forth ahead of us. Winter blessings to you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Joyce,
    A fellow snow lover! I have found that having to go to work in the weather has squeezed the love of snow right out of Chip and Caitlin, but I still love the stuff.

    Thank you for this message of wonder and hope! I have a smart phone, but I try to experience rather than document beauty. I feel like your descriptions are like reading the book rather than watching the movie. I would sometimes rather see in my mind’s eye than with the eye of the camera! And the lessons you share about perspective and trying to get too close are right on time for me.


  4. Joyce, this is beautiful and gives me such hope. I too have been opening my eyes more to the gifts of nature and other human beings, creating space for what is in front of me and ahead on the path. The other day on a walk with Henry I saw a young Haitian woman looking through dishes and plates left out on a table for passers by from the former house of Shel Silverstein that was destroyed by Hurricane Irma. Without thinking I asked if I could help her carry all the plates to her house. She took half and I took half. We both had to stop at several points—they were heavy! But I was so glad I had looked and seen her, because before or usually I would be mulling something over in my brain and not paying attention and I would have missed her. Her name is Genevieve and she was so gracious with her thanks. I thanked her for the opportunity to meet her. I’m so concerned about all the Haitians in Key West. Many worship so enthusiastically every Sunday and Wednesday nights at the UCC church across the street from us. My intention this week is to meet the Haitian pastor and talk to the UCC pastor about how or even if we can form a sanctuary church.
    Bless you, Joyce!


    • Thank you, Cathy, for sharing this beautiful story of connection. Blessings on your concern and work toward sanctuary. The movement here has been growing. I rejoice at all these efforts toward protecting the dignity and safety of our vulnerable sisters and brothers. Grateful for you.


  5. I feel as though I’ve been out walking with you, seeing everything in my mind’s eye in such beautiful detail through the gift of your words. Always grateful to you, Joyce.


  6. Ah, your words are like a healing balm to this northern prairie girl who has not been out much to see the precious gems bedazzling those who look with eyes and heart. Thank you for this great description and the reminder that hope will always point us away from ourselves and towards the sun/Son. ❤


  7. Thank you, Suzanne, dear sister and friend. You are shining exactly where you are, a precious gem on a journey of courage and hope, lighting the way for the rest of us with grace and faith. I am always grateful for you. Always.


  8. Gorgeous writing. You took me there and I stood with you looking through the lenses of wonder and gratitude. Speaking of gratitude, I am so glad you share your writing with us! With love, Melanie


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