Come warm yourself in front of my cozy attic fireplace. It certainly continues to be cold this winter. Even though to some, the 21° that greeted me when I let Ri-Leigh out this morning may seem warm, it certainly was a shock to me. I am very unfamiliar with continuing temperatures like that, having lived down here in Texas for 32 years.
My Sunday discussion group will be finishing up the book Synchronicity by Joseph Jaworski next Sunday. We have been with it for a while, so in order to move on to the next project, we each volunteered to present a chapter in summary accompanied by any observations we might have. I chose to do the epilogue.
The last page held a story which seemed to me to be very relevant to my life.
There was a documentary made of the horrors of Auschwitz (WW II German concentration camp). The surreal images showed all the inhumanity of that place.
But then at the end of the tape there was beautiful, soft music and the most surprising image appeared on the screen. It was an image of two birds, sitting on a slender branch of a tree in winter. Here’s what was written there:
“Tell me the weight of a snowflake,” a coal-mouse asked a wild dove.
“Nothing more than nothing,” was the answer.
“In that case, I must tell you a marvelous story,” the coal-mouse said.
“I sat on the branch of a fir, close to its trunk, when it began to snow–not heavily, not in a raging blizzard–no, just like in a dream, without a wound and without any violence. Since I did not have anything better to do, I counted the snowflakes settling on the twigs and needles of my branch. Their number was exactly 3,741,952. When the 3,741,953rd dropped onto the branch, nothing more than nothing, as you say–the branch broke off.”
Having said that, the coal-mouse flew away.
The dove, since Noah’s time an authority on the matter, thought about the story for awhile, and finally said to herself, “Perhaps there is only one person’s voice lacking for peace to come to the world.”
I was very moved by that story. In the first place, I could identify with the story literally. At the end of my driveway I have (or may have had) a beautiful yaupon holly tree. It had already been planted by a former owner when we bought the house. I stood in front of it with my year old son for a picture. I was at least 1 1/2 feet taller than the bush. Over the past thirty-two years I have watched it grow through blistering hot summers to rise to about fifteen feet tall. It didn’t seem to need any care other than trimming all this time. From time to time I would think about that picture of us and compare the growth of the holly to the growth of my son and all the friends he made along the way.
Last week we had our major record-breaking snow. The thought of my yaupon holly never crossed my mind. When I awoke the next morning, I thought my tree looked beautiful draped in snow. It didn’t occur to me how heavy the snow was upon her branches. It didn’t occur to me to go out and shake the snow off the branches I could reach. It occurred to me to stay inside where it was warm and I was safe from slipping on the concrete driveway.
I looked out later in the day and gasped. My beautiful yaupon holly had four branches touching the ground or just hanging there broken and swaying gently back and forth in the very mild breeze.
When I read that passage in the book, I realized the 3,741,953rd snowflake must have fallen on each of those four branches with their almost 3″ diameters. And I had done nothing to stop it. I asked the tree’s forgiveness. She looks so different with so much space between each of her remaining branches. She doesn’t look nearly as beautiful as she did a couple of weeks ago when she was the envy of Maxine and Dee’s husband. The branch ends are still splintered evidence that I did nothing. They will remain that way until I find someone to trim them back. I haven’t decided yet whether to cut her down or hope that Mother Nature will heal her wounds as best She can.
Maintaining peace is like that. We must all be consciously aware of the snow falls in our lives. We must be diligent about doing what we can to keep that last snowflake from falling and causing such destruction.We must be diligent because we prepare for storms. We are often caught unawares when they slowly creep upon us like the gentle falling snow last week.
But we so seldom think about what we can do and must do by ourselves to save anything or anyone when the snows hit, especially like they did ever so gently in the story.
I, like almost every other human being, have survived many snow falls in my life. I think I would have been comforted to have someone around to “shake off the snow” as I grew so I would not have lost as much as I have. There are parts of me that are still ragged and have yet to be trimmed. However, having said that, I must also add that I am beginning to realize in my sixth decade of life, that that is no excuse for me, as a power of one, to not speak up when I see snow clouds approaching and tell others to be diligent so that they may help prevent the 3,741,953rd snow flake from falling onto others. Somaly Mam, Mother Theresa, Florence Nightengale, Eleanor Roosevelt, Sister Kenny and so many others have been out there during their times shaking the branches they see. They serve as beacons for others to follow and do as they did. When am I going to realize that I should do the same and then actually do it? When am I going to speak up?
Or…looking at the situation of peace as the dove did, maybe I’m the 3,761,953rd person needed, just one more, to tip the scales in favor of peace and stop forever the horrors of war that humans insist upon playing out. Or maybe it might be you.
Namaste. Attic Annie