Last night, as we all lay sleeping, it snowed. The first real snowfall of this season, enough snow to close all the local schools.
I let the children sleep in and woke them gently with the news that there was no school today and that a winter playground had arrived. Outside it was still snowing.
Snow gives all sorts of opportunity for fun and games, but it gives something more. That first snowfall, the one where the firm green earth turns magically into a soft, quiet, pure stillness is a time to be treasured.
I messaged a friend of mine with the news that the snow had arrived and I asked what I could do with our daughter that would help capture what surrounded us. “A stealthy, quiet walk where you listen to the crunch under your feet”, came the reply.
I meditate, and do so quite devoutly, and a couple of weeks previous our twelve-year old daughter asked about this practice. I explained to her how meditation was something that one cannot buy, one cannot simply go to a workshop and instantly know what it is. Like all learning, it takes time and practice to be able to switch off the mind and focus on the present moment. This isn’t something you can know until you experience it, but sometimes the world conspires to give you a taste of what it might be like. This was one of those times.
We donned our winter coats, toques, gloves and boots and walked backwards down the hill to the trail below, looking at the footsteps we had created, imprints that would be gone by the end of the day. Such is change. Once on the trail I spoke to our daughter “What we are going to do is walk in silence, not a word, and what you are going to do is listen. That is all, just listen.”
And we walked in peace, immersed in the moment that existed. We arrived at the wild cherry, its branches coddled in white and stood for a moment. Then without a word we turned and walked back.
Crunch, crunch, crunch.
As we neared the trailhead at the bottom of our house I turned to Kat and asked her. What did you hear?
“I heard the sound of the snow under my feet when I stepped, the bird squawk, I think it was a crow, the wind blowing through the forest, the cars in the distance.”
“I heard my breath, the sound of my snow pants rubbing as I walked.”
She heard her breath, I marvelled.
“And what did you think of as you walked, Kat?”
“Nothing. I just listened.”
And that was it. The child had just experienced what it is like to live just in the present moment.