Andrée Seu Peterson: The big snow

JILL NELSON, HOST: Today is Thursday, October 25th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Jill Nelson.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Fall is still in full swing, but some parts of the country are already seeing their first snowfall of the year.

NELSON: Commentator Andrée Seu Peterson sees echoes of God’s character in snow and the seasons.

The following commentary originally ran in WORLD Magazine in February 2000. It’s from Andrée’s book Won’t Let You Go Until You Bless Me.  

ANDRÉE SEU PETERSON, COMMENTATOR: Because of La Nina, or just because God willed it so, children as far south as North Carolina have been able to sample a northern staple of late. I have imagined them often, cutting out swaths of cardboard, cozying up to the neighborhood kid with the sled, finding the second life of discarded inner tubes.

Then trudging, with a mission, to the highest hill in town.

The school is closed—the brick and mortar edifice, that is. Classes will be held today in the original one-room schoolhouse. The one God made long before anyone ever thought of herding kids into rigid rows and bolting them in desks, having checked their frogs and rabbit’s feet at the door.

Math will be measuring the distances gained by Billy’s toboggan and Vinny’s saucer. Science will be stopping to examine a six-pointed crystalline miracle of engineering caught on the mitten. Social Studies will be pondering the phenomenon of strangers waving on the street like long comrades in arms.

They say God whispers in our pleasures and shouts in our pain. But He is audible enough to me this day, as Aimee, Calvin, and I stake out our course on the summit of Glenside Elementary ridge.

I point my diminutive companions to the different moods of snow and sky. I am afraid they will miss it, even one hue or slant of sun. Of course they won’t. It will seep in by osmosis and live in dormant memory there, till awakened by a whiff of chill air one January day in middle age when their own kids tug at coats, breaking some reverie. Right now it’s serious business: Mind your positions, make the rope taut, plant feet on the steering crossbar, coax the most speed from the hill.

Sledding is the great democratizer. On the slopes no one knows your name, IQ, or proficiency with Windows 98—and no one cares. And those of us for whom the ski havens of the Rockies are out of reach are not denied the least sensation. How full can you fill a cup, after all, after it’s shaken down and running over?

I am thinking: there is snow because God cannot be contained in one season alone—or one anything alone. He is a lion, a lamb, an eagle. He is shepherd and door and vine. He is the warmth and new life of spring, the rich fruition of summer, the gentle warning of fall, and the promissory slumber of winter.

Even Oscar Wilde found the Christ child, at least momentarily, in a snowy landscape, in his children’s book The Selfish Giant, and appended this commentary to the ogre’s transformation: “He did not hate the Winter now, for he knew that it was merely the Spring asleep.”

And if snow was the antagonist in Lewis’ Narnia stories, it is only because winter would not give way to spring.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Andrée Seu Peterson.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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