Snow and Brokenness

Once a year, I like snow. Today is that day. I won’t still like it tomorrow. I wouldn’t have liked it yesterday. Today is the only day I will like it. And it is beautiful!

Falling in small concise flakes with an occasional conglomeration of them posing as a larger flake or two, the snow has made the usual greyness of Muncie a pristine white. I won’t say the snow has blanketed the city—that would be cliche.

Is it cliche to say that the snow only covers the sins of the world, but the snow doesn’t make them disappear? Is it cliche to say that the snow is a bandage with a wound festering under it? Is it cliche to wish that melting snow would leave behind healing and love?

Today’s snow may be beautiful, but its’ beauty doesn’t change the fact that the world is broken. People hurt and people suffer. We no longer live in Eden. We have yet to see paradise.

I just had a conversation with a woman who is becoming a friend. I wanted to remove her sorrow like the non-beating heart it is. I wanted to make it better, then, but I can’t. I wanted to tell her it will all be okay. I can’t promise that. Things don’t always work out. If they did, we’d have nothing to celebrate.

Today, I celebrate the snow. I celebrate Walt Whitman and his ability to understand. I refrain from singing the body electric, but “I Sit and Look Out” is one of my favorite poems of his:

I sit and look out upon all the sorrows of the world, and upon all the oppression and shame,

I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men at anguish with themselves, remorseful after deeds done,

I see in low life the mother misused by her children, dying, neglected, gaunt, desperate.

I see the wife misused by her husband, I see the treacherous seducer of young women,

I mark the ranklings of jealousy and unrequited love attempted to be hid, I see these sights on on the earth,

I see the workings of battle, pestilence, tyranny, I see martyrs and prisoners,

I observe a famine at sea, I observe sailors casting lots who shall be kill’d to preserve the lives of the rest,

I observe the slights and degradations cast by arrogant persons upon laborers, the poor, and upon negroes, and the like;

All these—all the meanness and agony without end I sitting look out upon,

See, hear, and am silent.

Walt wasn’t silent, though. He wrote it all down. Sometimes the written word resounds more fully than the spoken.

Whitman amazes me because he wrote such sad, and anguished poems as “I Sit and Look Out,” but he also wrote about beauty and life. Take for example this short poem: “I see the sleeping babe nestling the breast of its mother,/ The sleeping mother and babe—hushed, I study them long and long.” How beautiful!

Maybe a better metaphor for the snow is this: The earth is cradled in the bosom of snow. I feel cradled today. I want to study the snow long and long.

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2 responses to “Snow and Brokenness

  1. Thanks, Corby! I needed something like Whitman’s words to get me going this morning.

  2. you are the most optimistic pessimist I’ve ever know. That or you’re just a pessimist with an optimistic view.

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