While we were up at Tepeyac, it snowed A LOT. I’m from Georgia; I don’t do snow. Nick had been praying for snow, so my first thought when I saw it start snowing was that it was entirely his fault. I didn’t want to have to trudge around in the snow by myself for a week. So at first I was not happy about this snowfall. Well, God had a plan for the snow, and He used the snow and nature to speak to my heart in many ways. So I guess I need to be thankful for Nick’s answered prayer because it became a large part of my week. First of all, to see a thick layer of fresh white snow all over Camp Tepeyac was gorgeous. As I was taking a walk through the snow, a line from Psalm 51 kept going through my mind over and over again: “wash me, make me whiter than snow.” We pray this psalm in Liturgy of the Hours, so it is familiar to me. The beginning of this particular day had been filled with meditations about my sin. Seeing all the snow, God was really speaking to me about how He wanted to transform my heart, making it whiter than snow. As I was surrounded by such a beautiful scene, I felt like God just wanted me to know that He wants my soul to look that beautiful times ten. And in Him, that beauty is possible. This verse was in my mind all day. Then that night, I looked at the schedule my spiritual director had given me, and I was supposed to pray Psalm 51 before bed. God continued to confirm what He had been speaking to me all day!
That was only a glimpse of how the God used the snow to speak to me. During some free time one day, I decided to build a little snowman. I am a perfectionist, so naturally, I wanted it to look perfect. I start building my snowman. At one point, I take a step back to look at my work in progress. I realized I wasn’t happy with how it looked, so I started trying to fix it. In trying to make the bottom look more perfectly round, I of course made it look worse. Then in my efforts to continue fixing it, I end up making it crack in half, and I have to start over. All because I was not satisfied with the tiniest little bump that no one else would even notice. I started over, realizing I would have to accept that my snowman was not going to be perfect. That was a big deal for me to even come to this acceptance. And in that moment, I felt like God used it to speak truth to my heart in many ways. I rebuilt my snowman. It wasn’t perfect, by any means, but when I took a step back to look at it, I was happy with my work.
So how does this relate to God? First of all, I thought about the process of making a snowman. You take the snow and mold it into something. I have heard before the comparison of a sculptor starting with a block of marble and having to chisel away to refine it and make it into a piece of art. God does the same thing with us. He chisels away at us, refining us to help us become who He desires. As I was sitting in the snow with my snowman, I thought of this idea of God being a sculptor. I realized the same idea could apply to my snowman. Since I was the creator of this snowman, I felt like God wanted me to understand something about Him, as the Creator. God makes all of us in His image. He knows we are imperfect, and He knows all of our imperfections. In fact, He knows our imperfections better than we know ourselves. As our Creator, the One who knows everything about us, He is perfectly okay with us being imperfect. In fact when He looks at us, He doesn’t want to focus on the imperfections. He wants to look and focus on the beauty of who He created. So if that’s what God focuses on, then shouldn’t that be my focus as well? As I described above, the more I tried to make my snowman perfect, the worse I made it. It was a lot better when I let go of this desire to have a “perfect” snowman. There is a certain beauty in imperfection and the acceptance of that imperfection. Although I have known this for a long time, this moment reminded me of the need to let go of a lot of my perfectionist tendencies. Of course He wants us to always be seeking to better ourselves, but I sometimes need to be reminded that imperfection is okay.
Another thought I had as I was making my snowman was that I would be offended if someone criticized my work. I can look at my snowman and identify the imperfections and be okay with them. If someone else were to point them out, however, I would not be okay with that. It made me think about how God must feel when we judge, criticize, or put down others. We are offending Him by talking about someone He created. It really made me think about the idea of judging others and how much it must hurt God. It made me sad, actually. I was reminded of not only how God sees me, but also how God views all of His beloved sons and daughters.
When you spend a week in solitude, the Lord can speak to your heart in amazing ways. God spoke profoundly and intimately to me in times of meditations and guided holy hours, but in addition, He spoke in the small moments. Whether it was taking a walk in the snow, building a snowman, cooking dinner, or any other seemingly small moment, God used it. When people ask if it was hard to be in solitude for so long, I respond that I didn’t have much free time to really even notice. We had four or five holy hours every day, but in between all of those times, God was still speaking to me. It was literally just me and God for a week. When in solitude, you realize how much God wants to speak to you both inside and outside of scheduled prayer times. In hearing God’s voice in even the smallest moments, I realized how much I must miss His voice during the course of a normal day. I believe that God always wants to speak to me in the ways He spoke to me during solitude, but I am just too busy to listen. I hope that the week I spent with the Lord can teach me how to recognize His voice and the lessons He wants to teach me each and every day. Never underestimate what God can do, in small or big moments.