We set off along the path that lead down to the church. The snow crunched beneath our feet and our breath hung in the air in clouds. The night was filled with that hush that one only hears during a heavy snowfall. Around us the trees creaked beneath the weight of snow and ice in their branches.
Occasionally, we heard a snapping sound followed by a crash as a limb gave way beneath its load. Everything has a breaking point, I thought.
My heavy coat gave me a sense of warmth but everywhere the air touched was chilled. My cheeks felt frozen and my lips numb. The tip of my nose tingled. I pulled my scarf up, around my face, leaving only my eyes so I didn't fall down. I'd probably be all right if I did fall. The ground was like a feather bed.
Just west of the church we came out of the trees, near Harper’s pasture. The moon was above the horizon and glowed through an opening in the clouds. I could see the church on the left and the Cooper place on the right. Their tall spruce decorated in colored lights glowed against the snow-frosted branches and turned the snow beneath it into a multicolored carpet from an some exotic land.
Lights glowed from every window of the Cooper home. They were a large family with half dozen children. Always when I walked by I could hear laughter or the wild chattering of playing children. It was a happy place. Even the snowman, in his scarf and slouch hat, wore a grin and waved.
I slipped my gloved hand into the crook of Tom's arm as we passed the end of the rail fence around the pasture. He smiled down at me and my heart leaped from the highest peak. He could still do that to me, after all this time. I slipped on a patch of ice and he steadied me, still smiling.
As we passed the church, Deacon James was leaving and he tipped his hat to us. Mr. Irving and his boy Billy slogged across the church yard toward the warmth of the sanctuary. It was such a lovely little church. I thought how much the windows looked like precious gems set in the walls. I suspected the windows of Heaven would look much like those windows, with their glowing jewels and the light of God illuminating them.
As if to confirm it, in the stillness it seemed as if the voice of an angel floated out on the air and up the road, flowing among the houses and into the mountain valleys in the distance. It was Maggie O'Hara, singing O Little Town of Bethlehem with the choir. I doubted if any angle could utter notes as beautiful as Maggie.
The blanket of snow that lay over roofs and mountainside alike reflected the silver of the moon and created a strangely comforting landscape. I looked up the road and in the distance, I could see the lights of the other village houses along the hillside. We lived on the edge of town and from here, the warm, soft glow was as peaceful and serene as ever a place could be. We walked in silence past the church and as I hugged Tom’s arm, I thought there was no place on earth I’d rather be tonight than in this snow covered place, listening to an angel’s voice sing of the new Savior of the World.