Stopping by the woods on this snowy day did not start out to be quite as idyllic and simple as Robert Frost first painted it to be.
The truck fishtailed the tiniest bit as I gingerly stepped on the brakes, just enough to send my heart into my throat. A giant yellow semi bore down on me from the north, leaving the truck shuddering in the wake of its pass, and me clutching the steering wheel, as though I might hold the vehicle on the road by the whiteness of my knuckles. An icy blast of sub zero air blasted my face as I rolled the window down, fogging the camera lens. Was it worth all this?
But the way the tall smoothly scaled red pine trunks contrasted against the feathery spruce boughs, freshly highlighted in snow, had been catching me eye. Quiet beauty was calling to me from the edges of the road, right there in the midst of my hurry to get down the middle of it to check all the little empty squares on my shopping list in town. Surely I had a minute or two to spare?
“But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep…”
The to-do list and ticking clock of the day nagged, but I pushed it aside. I would stop, briefly, if only to save myself from driving off the road with all the neck-craning I’d been doing.
And after the roar of the yellow semi subsided, it was true:
“The only other sound’s the sweep, Of easy wind and downy flake…”
For a few moments, I was still, and the woods were still. There was not another car on the road within sight or earshot. The long list for the day faded away to the back of my mind. A tiny bit of sunlight twinkled through clouds above, kissing the forest in soft, warm light. The beauty of creation, which in turn pointed my heart to the beauty of its Creator, steeped into my soul. And I remembered this story:
“And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind:
and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:
And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire:
and after the fire a still small voice.” (1 Kings 19:11-12)
I am told that the term “a still, small voice” falls down somewhat in translation, that the idea is more that of a silence alive with His presence. It’s a truth supported elsewhere in Scripture, too, in other familiar lines such as:
“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
God is not to be found in the rush and busyness and chaos. God is to be found in the stopping, and in the still and quiet places. It was true in my soul that morning. It will be true wherever you stop to listen, too.
P.S. Want to read this well-known poem of Robert Frost’s in it’s entirety? Go here.