“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Matthew 5:8
An unexpected snow fell last night. Not much. Just about an inch. It
turned frigid again too. Temperatures in the low teens made the snow
light and fluffy. Picture perfect, like a department store display.
I walked the dogs, I went back out to shovel. Before the snow got packed down. Mine were still the only foot
prints on the sidewalk. The only marks in the thin white blanket that
fell across boundaries and fences and property lines and stitched a
single tapestry of our neighborhood.
It’s easy to see God in this
iconic image of purity. The driven snow. Blinding in its purity before
it is toned down by life. The cars of people on their way to work.
More footsteps from dog walkers and kids on their way to school after
the 2 hour delay today. The sun rising higher in the sky, reducing this
white blanket bit by bit.
That’s the trouble with purity. It
doesn’t hold up well. Our images of God can be as fragile and
fleeting. Ruined by something as innocent and necessary as a man
walking his dogs early as the pink sun breaks over the trees.
snow is easy to clear. It’s not the heavy snow we usually get here in
Northern Virginia, that pushes back belligerently against the shovel and
feels like a load of cement when you try to lift it. This snow is
agreeable. Co-operative. It yields happily to the shovel and I am able
to clear the walks quickly. Except for the white footprints, where I
stepped this morning, left on the cleared sidewalk like a very boring
Arthur Murray dance step routine.
At the edge of the property, I
look back over my work and see the traces of my steps from when the
world was clean and unspoiled. But it’s not despoiled landscape. A
different purity has emerged. The purity of cleared sidewalks, and
straight lines, waiting to receive more walkers, more footsteps to join
mine, that mine may disappear into something larger.
I see the
purity that Jesus means. Not the purity of the pristine. I see the
purity of labor. The purity of care. The purity that allows the
passing footsteps of God to be clearly seen.