So. I’m tired of waiting for the dilatory daily prompt. Not checking again today.
Anyway, we got a beautiful prompt overnight.
I took this with my iPhone, from inside our dining room. It looks out on our back yard. We got about six inches, and the temperature right now is 33 degrees. Not bad, really.
There are myriads of paeans written to the beauty of the snow. There are songs and poems and photographic essays, and I can’t (won’t) try to improve on any of them. There are also lots of things written about the horrors of the snow, the unrelenting cold, the dangers. Both are true. And both ideas have set my mind to work this morning.
I work in mental health. I’m a private practice, independent contractor therapist. I work three days each week, and at my ripe old age, that’s plenty. I spend those days listening to people’s sad stories. Some of them are horror stories of abuse, neglect, post-traumatic stress symptoms, depression, bipolar disorder, marriages crashing and burning, financial disasters, medical disasters. Sometimes, I see someone who just has garden-variety depression that is fairly easy to help, and that’s kind of a relief. It’s never easy. Don’t misunderstand me. But I know how to handle the snow storm of depression. I’m learning how to work with most of the other things I mentioned. Sometimes it’s a blizzard beyond my ability, and I have to bring in the heavy plows and disposal trucks, the sanding trucks and the emergency vehicles. I always regret having to do that, because sometimes doing so puts my client into a system we both dislike. Reporting child abuse, for example, is something I truly hate having to do. I’m a mandated reporter, so I have no recourse. Doing so puts all kinds of social services into play, and sometimes it turns out well. Other times, it’s just a bigger blizzard. I have a client who had been falsely accused of molesting his own daughters. He has since been completely exonerated, but during the process his girls were removed from his home and put into foster care for a full year. That’s an ongoing story, and there will be lifelong repercussions. The girls were molested by a family member, just not their father.
Horrible blizzard with howling winds, white-outs, and lives endangered.
On the other hand, just this past week I had the delightful experience of a gentle, cleansing, beautiful snowfall of forgiveness and restoration in a marital case I’ve been working with. Mercy is necessary in order for forgiveness to be effective. Mercy, kindness, forgiveness, recognition of one’s own contribution to the problem. When one person stands in stern and unrelenting judgment on another that he claims he loves, there isn’t much hope of restoration. If one person always has to be right, then the other person always has to be wrong. No one can survive and thrive under those conditions.
Mercy is like snow that falls in huge, puffy flakes while the air is still. It covers the ugliness of winter grass, barren bushes and neglected flower beds that make me think of the wrong choices, wrong behaviors, hurtful words that are said. When the fall of mercy is done, it leaves a blanket of spotless, glistening beauty over everything. It does bring calm. It brings a sense of warmth and comfort as we stand inside a warm house, gazing out onto a changed landscape. It is clean, It is unmarred, until the first squirrel or winter bird leaves its tracks across the surface.
Gentle snowfall in still air, doing no damage, but restoring nutrients and moisture to the soil, like mercy soaking into a broken and hungry heart.