This is not the sort of white Christmas Bing Crosby was dreaming of. This snow in this poem is not soft and fluffy, not picturesque and magical. Here we find not the ‘merry and bright’ days of Hallmark films and snowy Christmas card scenes, but an invitation into the mysterious heart of the incarnation.
This short poem manages to capture two important things about the incarnation. First is the complexity, captured in the image of the snowflakes in the first verse. Christmas is the story of a child, but it’s no simple children’s story. There are depths and layers which take a lifetime to inhabit and examine, and to learn the patterns of it by which God shapes us.
The other significant thing in this poem is the enormity of the incarnation, the enormity of God. Carys Walsh speaks of “the brightness and ferocity of God’s grace” captured in the second verse of the poem. Here is God who is no tame lion, to borrow another snowy image. Here is God, wild and free, and overwhelming.
The snowscape of Thomas’ imagination is not the magical one of sentimental Christmas songs, but it is perhaps a mystical one. Here, in the frost and the shadows, God is tangible, and the vastness of the incarnation is made real.
This year for #AdventBookClub we are reading “Frequencies of God: walking through Advent with R.S. Thomas” by Carys Walsh. Join the conversation on Twitter using #AdventBookClub or on Facebook by searching for the group ‘Advent Book Club’.