Late afternoon and the light begins to fade, and we widen the gaps in the window blinds, tugging the dangling strings with our fingers. Usually, I close up the house instead; slide the curtains closed against the coming dark, press my fingers flat against the chilled window panes. Tonight though, I switch on the lamps as I always do, flooding shadowy corners with warmth, just now without a care to the openness of the view. We take turns studying the glittering street as twilight falls–soft amber, delicate lavendar, muted gold, glowing. Creation waits eagerly, and so do we.
“Is it here yet?” Zoe says behind me, and I turn away from the window, testing the coolness of my fingertips with my thumb. She is huddled under a blanket, curled into a cozy, pink-cheeked ball, and just the site of her like that makes me ache for shivering mothers somewhere bending their own bodies around their children against the cold, shuffling down the street, maybe looking for a white flag flapping at a mission door. Oh, to be able to everywhere spread warmth, to share it. I walk to my daughter, reaching to tuck a wild strand of her hair behind her ear.
“No, not yet.”
From the kitchen, Riley calls, “Google says 54 minutes. So, what time would that be?” She looks up from her phone. The frosty backlight from the screen highlights her chin in a sharp “v” that doesn’t quite reach her smile. I chuckle, amused, leaning to peer through another window, searching the thick clouds for clues. The forecast still says only a 20% chance tonight, and yet somehow Google has it down to 54 minutes.
“We may not get any snow tonight,” I tell them. “It’s just a very small possibility.” But around here, the smallest possibility can develop into the most disarming surprise. We’ve learned not to minimize the word might.
“Snow,” Adam says, standing beside me, stuffing his hands in his pockets. He glances out the window and back at me, waiting. He seems content just to watch.
“Maybe,” I say, pulling him into a hug. “Maybe not.”
He grins, and turns again to the window. It doesn’t matter; we can’t help but pause to search for flakes. Winter is, after all, a season for anticipation. We watch the sky for snow, the trees for buds, the cold, hard ground for new grass.
“Well, if not tonight, definitely tomorrow,” Zoe interjects, muffled, so buried now beneath her blanket that I see only her eyes and the suggestion of a nose. “Accuweather says 90%.” I sigh, mentally perusing our supplies. We don’t see much of the harsher side of Winter here; a small storm can paralyze our mobility for days. It’s wise to practice preparedness. But we’re ready, and by grace, we’re warm. I’ve read and heard about the way things once were without electricity and running water, the way things still are in some places. Winter finds us blessed–waiting and grateful, a thousand gifts gathered in store, a thousand more coming. I spend the colder season searching past the gray and barren, anticipating beauty, fortifying against a freeze.
Something about all our waiting and studying for signs of snow this evening reminds me of Magi searching the stars, Zealots studying prophesy. What might they have done with Google and Accuweather, I wonder. I think of Anna and Simeon, expectantly waiting in the temple. Anna never left for all her watching. And what was it that Simeon said when he saw the Christ? Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace, as you have promised. They breathed with the kind of anticipation that commands and changes lives. But what now of us, of those anticipating His return?
I glance at Adam, standing still and quiet in front of the window; at Zoe, her eyes trained on the sky; at Riley, who constantly refreshes her screen for a new prediction, and I can’t help but consider: Do I really wait on Him that way—with my heart turned toward the window, with my eyes scanning the clouds (but someday he will return in the same way that you saw him go!), with a focus that never leaves, with preparedness that believes in the possibility? Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning, as though you were waiting for your master to return. Those words belong to the Coming One. He spoke them; His breath, His voice dissolving into the air just as quickly as the snow flakes appear, twisting light, drifting in the night sky. So many times we’ve seen the snow, and still every time we wait for it like a friend. Respectful awe draws us to the windows.
In the night sky, the stars faintly twinkle, just a few visible through the blanketing clouds. And as we wait, this is the thought that resonates in me: I want to live in anticipation of Christ. I want to expect His gifts, His power, His work, His coming, and I want waiting on Him to change how I see, to make me look more closely, to cause me to stand still with hope. I want to live by faith, because faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
“Five minutes,” Riley says from the kitchen, sliding off of her perch to take her place next to Adam at the window. It’s as though I never spoke the maybe not. “Five minutes and then the snow.”