Thursday, 16 January 2014

snow and ice

setting sun near river Cole

We are approaching what is, as a friend reminded me, on average, the coldest day of the year. As a family, we have also just celebrated my son's 18th birthday. The first time I remember taking him out, as a new baby, was a walk in the snow, all that time ago. I carried him in a sling and walked so, so carefully, down to the park behind our house.We haven't had any snow yet this year, and I haven't really missed it, but all the same, looking back over my photo collection, the snowy ones do have a certain magic.

frozen bucket of water with leaf

There's an old rune poem written in Anglo Saxon, that describes the ice:

Ice is so cold!  immeasurably slippery,
it glistens like glass, a precious jewel,
a floor wrought of frost, beautiful to behold.
 (my own loose translation)

Frost has a capacity for bringing out the jewel-like, helping us see differently, so we notice things that would otherwise be unremarkable:

such as dead cow parseley heads ...

A spider's web ...

an ivy flowerhead ...

so many intricate details.

As it happens, my nostalgic scroll through eighteen years of winter photos is timely. Tomorrow I am welcoming a group of students to our home and sharing something with them of living appreciatively amongst a predominantly Muslim neighbourhood. I'm going to share a little, as part of my presentation, about the 99 beautiful names of God (which I have blogged about previously in 99 Beautiful Names ...). One of my long-time favourites is 'Ya Musawwir', Oh Fashioner of Intricate Details ...' Through meditation on the name we are inspired to marvel at the intricacy of patterns,
A spiral of blackthorn

 the wonder of colours,

 the detail, the fascinating beauty all around us.

Ya Musawwir calls for us to stop and notice how incredible the natural world is. Stopping to notice the beauty is one of the 'meanings' of Isa, the Ice rune of the poem above. it's one of the things I've often found myself doing, in 18 years of bringing up a young person to adulthood. Isa is sometimes interpreted as a frustrating rune of standstill, as the ice makes travel difficult - and how we all want ot keep rushing about! But life is so fast paced these days - it's interesting that it's still nature, be it snow or carrying a precious new babe out into the world for the first time, that slows us down to stop in awe every now and then.

'When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, 
the moon and the stars that you have established,
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
mortals that you care for them?'
Psalm 8:3-4

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