It’s Snow Wonder

The clear cornflower-blue sky on this crisp spring morning stands in stark contrast to last night’s blizzard. A few inches of sun-illuminated white stuff blankets the landscape. Mini-crystals reflect light like so many diamonds scatted about. Trees laden with puffy cottontails begin to shed, showering walkers with ice crystals. The entire world has transformed from the parched environment of severe drought into a wonderland of snow.

I remember awakening to see fresh snow when I was very young. It seemed like a blessing, a softening of all the hard edges of everything. Of course, I wasn’t responsible for shoveling the stuff yet. My childlike mind was open and curious about things arising miraculously from nowhere. The unclouded eyes of wonder had yet to be conditioned by harsh experiences of my later life. 

I often think about the process of becoming an adult—what we gain and what we tend to lose. I think this is what draws me to the Dharma. The teachings seem to call us to remember the childlike wonder with which we are born. Buddha said what he discovered was even “too wondrous to be imagined.” Viewing the world without pre-conceived notions is our natural mind. It is wonderful beyond wonder.

The children of war-torn countries are prematurely ripped away from wonder. Fear becomes the dominant presence. The same is true in our adult mind. We are ripped away from wonder by our embattled emotional life, even when we are not threatened by war. It is the combat we wage in our thoughts that blind us to the beautiful experiences of the unexpected, which is actually everything.

Our practice is to reawaken the awareness that everything appears as if from nowhere. The world of phenomena is a product of our momentarily arising thoughts. If everyone acted like they understood this simple notion, we would not wage external wars that destroy the wonder of children, the wonder in all of us.

As I write this, last night’s snow has melted. Freshly watered spring flowers are peeking out of the ground, awaiting a visit from early pollinators. Although wars are raging in the world, this moment is nourished by wonder. When we are refreshed in this way, we are more likely to resolve the battles in our mind—and we become more helpful in liberating the discord and suffering of others.

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