I woke this morning to a world in white. Every year this happens. Every year it is a miracle.

The timing is perfect. There has been too much darkness in the world of late. My work brings me often into contact with people on the edge of  despair. Sometimes all I can do is stand beside a soul balanced on a precarious no man’s land between life and whatever lies beyond, and bear witness to their pain. Spending too much time in that place of “to be or not to be” takes its toll, makes it hard to remember all that is still bright and beautiful in the world.

Yesterday it seemed that everything was grey, and always would be. This morning there is transformation, both outside and in.

A skiff of snow doesn’t bury or obscure – it highlights – the intricate complexities of leaf and twig and blade of grass made visible to the casual gaze. Once upon a time, many years ago, I wrote a poem, lost now except for the first line which lingers in my memory:

“Snow is the last magic upon the face of the earth.”

And this is so.

This morning I know I will be writing before the day is through. I’ve taken a brief pause: the last draft of Swimming North completed, it needed to rest. But I can no longer hold off my hands. There is an itch of the soul when I cease to write. It begins subtly and can be subdued by television and Twitter and casual conversation. But it will not be ignored.

When I try to ignore it – and in the past I have, for years – my world becomes tangled and twisted. There is no clarity. Despair grows.

This morning, I dream of agents and publication and success, and I work hard toward reaching these things. But I write not for these reasons, but because I must. Because I am only fully alive when I am writing. Because the words complete me.

Sometimes, when the writing is hard, I forget this, but something always reminds me.

This morning it is the magic of snow.

I am grateful.

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