This is the fourth and final post in the “I Love That Line!” series that features writers’ reflections on their favorite Christmas carols. Nate Smith, writer of Breaking the Silence, reflects on two stanzas from “Winter Snow.”
It is hard for me to imagine a non-hectic Christmas. Just the mention of the word used to leave a sour taste in my mouth having worked retail on-and-off for ten years and then in restaurants. People swiping cheap gifts off metal shelves to satisfy their family’s greed—(It’s a watch.)—and others: “I cannot believe you’re working on Christmas!” and my unspoken reply: It’s because you’re shopping, you idiot!
It’s the busyness of the season that caused me to hate Christmas. There was always another party to attend, another person to help, another gift to buy that dragged my savings account back to zero. Each act didn’t feel like giving either; instead, it felt more like an obligation to appease those high on the Christmas spirit.
Quiet, Soft, and Slow
The idea of slowing down during Christmas is not usually signaled by numerous texts and e-mails inquiring, “What’s your new mailing address?” So the arrival of a greeting card reminded me not only of those who love me, but also the fact that my address has changed every year for the past seven years.
It was me with the vagabond status that was also not slowing down. But how do you slow down when every year you’re readjusting to a new place? My heart was unsettled in many ways. The Christmas rush was always a stark reminder of feeling left way back in the mix. The season’s great anticipation was simply lost in the chaos.
“Winter Snow” captured my heart last year. The verses explain all of the ways Jesus could have come to earth. It could have been like a storm, a fire, a tidal wave, among other ways. Indeed, it would have been so easy to make a big statement in a region overrun with turmoil and war.
“But you came like a winter snow,
Quiet and soft and slow,
Falling from the sky in the night
To the earth below.”
It was so simple. Jesus entered quietly, a whining newborn lying softly in the manger distanced from war. His was a refugee status that proclaimed to the world that somehow the kingdom of God was now here.
Everything about it was gentle and unexpected, nothing rushed. A nine-month pregnancy cannot be rushed but birthed with patience. And like the snow when it falls, it changes everything it touches. It brings silence and silences the crowds, for winter has come.
Thy Kingdom Come
I see in my many address changes an odd approach to how the yearning human heart seeks after God. And it prompts me—vagabond spirit, unsettled nature, and all—to slow down and really notice how the Kingdom comes.
Now escaped from Christmas greed, I can see the beauty of Christ everywhere—in the laughter of those frolicking in the snow; in the warmth between a couple strolling and admiring Christmas lights; in the anticipation of gingerbread cookies almost done.
“Oh, no, your voice wasn’t in a bush burning.
No, your voice wasn’t in a rushing wind.
It was still; it was small; it was hidden.”
Read more by Nate on his blog Breaking the Silence.