After only a few short steps, I turned and looked again upon the small creek winding through the snow and trees toward the lake, slowly dashing its own essence into the greater existence it sought to join. I regarded the scene intently as though I could permanently mark this time and place in my memory, perhaps seeking to assure these waters that they would not be forgotten after blending with the waters of the lake.
I turned and walked near aimlessly the last few steps to the edge of the lake, compelled forward by the insistent beckoning of the snow, a call which tugged at the very fiber of my being, a directive I could not refuse. I stood on the lake's shore, its ice-cold waters rhythmically dancing until they reached the place where I stood, lapping endlessly at the bank by which I now found myself.
The snow formed a crepuscular shroud over the land and water. The day now fully upon the world still held to the darkness of the night, like a cloak rested upon existence itself.
What compels within me this obsequious attention to your presence? I asked. Why am I held by your unremitting grasp? Have I no will of my own?
I waited for a response from the snow. As if by sheer force of will, I demanded an answer from within my heart. I knew, however, that none would be forthcoming unless they chose to respond.
Like the creeks before, I meandered even closer to the lake, eventually finding myself standing on the pier above the cold dark depths.
The world seemed a lonely place from this vantage point. I looked first this way then that, looking out across the water at the cold, starkly quiet places beyond.
"What brings me here?" I wondered aloud. The sound of my own voice shocked me. It pierced the air like an explosion. It was an affront to the very stillness and silence which surrounded me. No life could be seen except a few birds soaring through the snow with magic beauty. Why then had I voiced aloud that single thought?
I felt this command pass through me like a wave of unseen energy. The singular voice contained a plurality which could only be felt. It shook me to the core, a maelstrom of ubiquitous power and sound that had no physical presence, yet it trembled my body, juddered my bones, and pierced my mind and heart.
We are you, and you us. We become one. We exist as you exist. Speak not, for it shatters our essence.
The chill of these words ran down my spine. As impenetrable as I felt when leaving home and hearth, the snow had successfully invaded my armor. The cold enveloped me both without and within. While only a few moments before I had considered the environment too harsh to support further wanderings, the intimacy between the self of snow and the self of me banished that discomfort.
I discovered the snow resting upon my shoulders. Lifting my hand above my hat, I brushed away another fortress of ice sitting upon me there. A downward glance revealed frigid whiteness hiding my shoes and steadily climbing my legs. Why had I not noticed this invasion before? And was it somehow acclimating me to the cold, making me more cozy in this place contrary to human comfort? Yes, I believe it is.
Do you appreciate our élan?
The question gave me pause, a moment to consider its meaning. I could not be certain what precisely the snow meant by this inquiry.
I do not understand I responded. Your meaning remains unclear to me. While I appreciate and acknowledge your power and beauty, I remain unable to appreciate fully what has brought me here. Your intentions are alien to me.
As though I had raised a challenge, the snow began to blow harder, to fall with more ferocity. Its near lambent dance over the water became like a tempest, hiding more and more of the distant shoreline. My vision was awash in violent white, the world succumbing to the will of this glacial presence.
Only then did I begin to realize the power of stillness, of silence. The world was wrapped in this blanket of quiet, life frozen in time like a photograph — only living under the pressing cloak of the shrouding snow.
Where is your great city now?
I turned southwest with deliberateness. The answer was apparent to me even before my eyes settled upon the place just beyond the hill across from me, the place beyond which can be seen downtown Dallas rising from the city's heart. Today it did not rise from behind that hill.
Tell us what you see? The houses built on yonder shore? The bridge spanning distances a mere walk from this place? The constructs of your great city’s core? Or do you see the shores of this lake bathed in hues of white? All other color washed from the face of the earth? A transformation of worlds? Here in your aloneness, tell us what you see?
I knew in my mind that the world had not vanished from around me. Despite what my eyes beheld, I knew I would be equally difficult to see from those distant and unseen places. I also began to understand that the snow at this moment exerted such utter control over life, even in its minute form and state of uncontrolled descent. Alone each flake was unimportant. Together… Ah, together they are infinitely strong and infinitely many, capable of vanquishing life to the utmost reaches of the cold, forced to remain unseen and tucked away until this icy grasp is released.
We are small and inconsequential, yet we are able with our prowess to cloak from you the existence of your own city, within whose boundaries you exist. We hide from you the north crossing which is but a walk from this place. What power have we to be so influential? What strength exhibit we to control your senses so absolutely?
I stood motionless, alone in this place on the pier overlooking the lake, here in the snow. I allowed the cold wind blowing across the water to encircle me, carrying the snow all about me. It touched my face with fingers of glass, melted quickly upon my lips with a refreshing chill, and embraced me from head to toe.
Unaccompanied in this place, I was he who existed where no others existed — when no others existed — isolated from the world by the freezing landscape around me. The snow separated me from all things except itself. It forced life to retreat for protection, thereby allowing me this time to fully and wholly be engulfed by this wonderland.
I know not what power it is you possess, nor do I know how I come to be so unable to resist your beckonings. These things you show me are beautiful; they are spectacular disparities of being. You make a world of peace and tranquility which hushes even the most hurried among us. You give a gift, and perhaps it is that which has placed me under your spell.
Even as the words formed in my head, I felt them drawn from me by the snow, now somehow ingrained into every part of me. That intimacy and my own words suddenly called forth a spark of understanding that had eluded me before.
Our time grows limited. Come with us; be with us. Your journey is not yet complete. Even now our strength wanes.
The snow was slowing only slightly. Had I just become aware of this weakening? Or, instead, had it only just begun to diminish in intensity? It still came with force and numbers that gave the air weight and texture it could not otherwise possess, nevertheless I sensed I was not yet in the place to which the snow was leading — and it would soon be unable to complete this self-appointed task.
The snow was leading, and I was following. It was clear to me then. But leading me where? Or to what? The journey was preparing me through sights and sounds and experiences and journeying, but preparing me for what? Even then, the warp and woof of my being contained the truth. Deep down inside where I could not yet see, the answer already had been written. This is why I hearkened its call: I wanted to follow where the snow would lead.
So I turned and walked, returning the same way by which I had arrived at this scene. I must understand the endgame.