I could see my breath in small clouds as I walked down the well-trodden snowy path away from the mess hall. Everything was covered in a thick layer of white. Not the powdery white of fresh snow or the grey of slush, but rather the heavy wet snow that’s good for snowmen. I could hear the crunching of the snow under my boots as I stepped off the worn-down path toward a tree a few feet away. As I sat down at the base of the tree, I felt the roots under my bum.
I just sat there and watched the snow cover the ground, trees, buildings, fences, cars, and people as far as the eye could see. Our confirmation class was on a winter weekend retreat at Camp Crestfield and we had been given time to go off and be alone with God. So there I was, sitting up to my shins in the snow. One might wonder what, if anything, can be learned of God in the middle of winter when the light is scarce and the world seems to have died in the cold, white wilderness. But while I sat there with my hat and pants slowly getting damp from the snow, I realized something. The snow in some way touched everything around me, including me! Its heavy presence reminded me of the way we sometimes talk about the love of God.
God’s love is always around us, at times overwhelming us with its depth and strength. It is what can nourish us when nothing else quite does the trick. In the middle of the coldest and darkest time of year, when the life of spring feels so distant, snow falls on the cold dead ground and nourishes it for the life waiting to bloom. The snow I saw that day often comes to mind when the seasons turn toward winter. I remember how much love God has for what God has made, and I marvel at all the little ways that we are reminded of that love.
Psalm 46 reminds us that in the midst of shaking mountains, foaming seas, nations in uproar, and melting earth, God calls us to stillness in the knowledge that God is God. Whether the world is as still as a winter’s night or as chaotic as a choppy sea, we can rest on the assurance that God is, has been, and always will be God. Our Divine Parent will not abandon us. God offers us peace and rest from the eye of the hurricane. Jesus tells us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”
The love of God, that rest and presence, is often found in unexpected places. I found it in the quiet stillness of a winter day. That peace reached out and gripped me, pulling me to itself and surprising me with its warmth. I could still see my breath, I could still feel the snow on the ground beneath me. But I felt a warmth deep in my chest, at the core of my being. I knew in that moment that I was not alone out there under the tree. The Spirit of the Lord whispered as the wind whistled in the trees and eaves of the cabins. It was then that I heard the Still Small Voice. I heard no words, saw no visions. But I was in the presence of Love.
Hunter Steinitz is a Master of Divinity student at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Her call to ministry lies in her experience living with a chronic skin condition. She wants to explore and express the beauty in a diverse and colorful creation.