We do not want to merely “see” beauty—though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words—to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it.  C.S. Lewis—The Weight of Glory

I remember thinking, the first year we lived in the cabin, “I never want to get used to this, this beauty . . . to see it so often that I don’t see it anymore.” That was thirteen years ago . . . a cold, gray day like today. Blue-tinged landscape stretching farther than you can see. Brittle cold. So cold my guy wears my thick-knit hat to replenish the woodpile at the kitchen door. Cliff tops, roofs, pine tree trunks, and four-day-old snow rimed with ice. I think of the furry bodies burrowed warm somewhere.

I put on my snowboots and jacket to walk next door for a little Birthday Brunch my neighbor has planned for me. We ladies stand chatting at her big window and see a little fox slip beneath the porch steps of the cabin. The mystery of the tiny footprints at the other end of the porch solved.

I remember another long-ago winter day that felt like today. I was eighteen, 1,900 miles from home, a college freshman on the wide prairies of Canada. My student work assignment was serving breakfast in the dining room. I would go early to prepare the serving line and butter the toast. It was a big stainless-steel toaster that dropped twelve slices out onto a tray where I would gather them quickly before the next batch fell, butter them with a paint brush dipped in melted margarine, and arrange them on trays, standing at an angle, so they wouldn’t steam together into sogginess. I’m a crispy-toast lover. This was my gift to my fellow students.

My early morning treks to the Dining Room at 6:00 AM were magical moments. The only sounds the crunch of my boots in the snow and my breath, steady and warm inside the scarf over my nose. And the sights, well I could see forever. Miles and miles of white prairie, fluorescent in the moments before dawn. I thought it looked like Siberia must look. And always the cold wind wrapping itself around everything—leaving it barren and starkly beautiful.

I had been there two months before I made the call home to a waiting boyfriend. I walked to the pay phone in the center of campus after dinner and stood in that cold glass box . . . framing the words I hadn’t been brave enough to say in person. I remember the feeling of lightness as I stepped out of the booth into the glowing whiteness of that endless prairie, moon rising luminous, cold air catching in my chest. I was immersed in beauty . . . somehow part of the incredible whole.

2 thoughts on “Bathed in beauty

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