Thursday, December 27, 2012

Praying for Snow


Looking out the window on a December morning as the snow piles up into burbly tussocks, it would seem that the wishes of the North Country folk--who depend on snow for their winter livelihood, as well as their mental tonic--were granted. The hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing began early around here as leaves and temperatures plunged: when will it snow? Sometimes there’s an October tease, a dump of snow foreshadowing the deep, rich, even layer of winter to come. Sometimes there’s a painful delay, leaving naked trees to shamefully stand watch in the cold, provoking cries of climate change, and, prayer.

Praying for snow is a custom up here. It is printed on the buttons advertising Pinnacle Ski & Sports that are handed out by David Wolfgang as he makes his seasonal pilgrimage to the local lodges, dropping off ski rental coupons. It is written in the dirty rear windows of cars, instead of “wash me.” And it is used as a sign off between friends concluding a telephone conversation: “Okay, talk to you later. Pray for snow.”

But there is a new secularism that’s creeping into the language that threatens the potency of prayer with waffling indifference. The bland imperative, “Think Snow” has become the mantra of the middling. Thinking and praying are different. To think is to contemplate, to cogitate, to ponder, to consider, but not to commit. To pray is to invoke, to call upon, to implore--in short, to ask for something. Thinking is the precursor to prayer, not its replacement. We may think of snow on a summer day as a relief from heat, but we wouldn’t pray for snow in July, unless we were vacationing in a Chilean ski resort.

The purpose of prayer isn’t to get what your want from God--or a god, or the universe, or whatever your force is. The purpose of prayer is prayer. It’s a way to facilitate cellular alignment, to actually influence the solid world, and the people inhabiting it, for there is a connection between the spiritual and the physical, between the mental and the manual, between the theory and the practice. The point is that prayer has a point, a purpose, a goal. In the case of the ski bums, innkeepers, and restauranteurs who inhabit the North Country, the point of prayer is snow. Equivocating with unfocused meditation just won’t get it done.

So pray for snow. Pray in your own way, but pray, because prayer works. It doesn’t work because lists are submitted and orders are filled. It works because it fills up the temporal world with positive energy, and that energy works miracles on weather systems. I know, because I’m looking out the window at the shape of prayers answered: snow.

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