We woke up this morning to kids shrieking in joy.snow children play
It’s snowing.

We live in a part of the country where we don’t get snow very often, and every snowfall is treated like a magic holy day.
Especially if it coincides with a school day, and thus the blessed possibility of a no-school day.

The snow this morning is especially beautiful.
Big, puffy flakes,
whirling out of the sky,
dancing here,
dancing there,
gently landing, Jerusalem in snow 4 dome of the rock

silently on the warm ground,
melting away right
before the next flake descends down.

winter-snow-forest-trees-nature-600x337

All three Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) started in the Middle East, where snowfall is a relatively rare phenomenon.

Sunshine is abundant, not snowfall.  So we have lots of metaphors for God’s love and mercy being like sunshine, shining on rocks and trees, saints and sinners alike.   This is, in fact, how Muslims describe God’s quality of al-Rahman, the Eternally Compassionate and loving Mercy of God, which is like the merciful sun that shines on all equally:   God creates freely, sustains freely, nurtures freely, loves freely, and forgives freely.

[The word Rahman is taken from the word Rahem, meaning the womb of a woman, as if God contains the whole universe in “God’s womb”, providing care for all in the universe, the way that a mother does for an unborn child.]

snow on tree shutterstock

The metaphor of sun shining down on all, with no distinction, is a powerful one.    Scriptures use the metaphors of the people around them, which is why so many metaphors of paradise are that of a garden, with abundant shades, rivers flowing and plentiful food.   That would sound like paradise to a people who lived in deserts.   I cannot help but wonder, if the Prophet had lived in colder climes, would we have a few scriptural metaphors comparing God’s love to snow fall?

The Qur’an instructs the faithful to meditate on nature, to discern the presence of God.  This morning, seeing the snow fall on our yard and the children playing in the snow, I don’t meditate on God, I see God.   In the silent snowfall, I hear the descent of the Divine into where He has been all along.
Mercy dancing out of heaven like big puffy snow flakes.

God’s mercy is like this,
Descending down from heaven
Covering trees
Covering rocks
Covering the ground
In beauty.

1264703461_an_everclear_afternoon_snow_covered_trees

God’s love is like this,
Sitting on saints and sinners
Making everyone dance
Hands raised to heaven
Smiling the way children do
When they are liberated from school.

God’s quality of al-Sattar covers all,
covering all shortcomings and inequities.

The snow flakes fall
Children dance

The snow flakes fall
God descends
We rise.

Happy Snow Day, y’all.

Categories: Beliefs

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Omid Safi

Omid Safi

Omid Safi is a Professor of Islamic Studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, specializing in contemporary Islamic thought and classical Islam. He leads educational tours to Turkey every summer, through Illuminated Tours: http://www.illuminatedtours.com

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