By Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
I always think of this poem around this time of year. I love it. Reading it helps me feel the peace that really is the center of this season, but somehow gets so easily pushed to the edges. I’ve never really isolated why it helps me feel calm. I’ve assumed it’s the validation and empathy I feel reading that last line, “miles to go before I sleep” and then reading it again. But this morning while I was running in the crisp air and marveling at the beauty of the still grey sunrise and taking in the details of the trees silhouetted against the solstice sky the real meaning of this poem (to me at least) hit me.
There are miles to go before he sleeps, but he is stopping. Stopping in the woods and watching them fill with snow. He is quiet enough for a minute to listen to the wind and downy flake.
And in that stopped quiet moment he is reminded of the promises he has to keep. ‘Promises.’ Isn’t that a nice way to think of all the things we are running around doing? In my mind, he stopped, drank in the beauty of a moment and then moved forward laced with peace as he traveled all those miles before he could sleep.
This is what I’m trying to focus on this season. The moments (the good ones). Emmeline reading the Grinch to Peter on the couch. Charlie doing a secret service. Hazel leaving notes on my pillow. The glow of the lights as I read to the kids all snuggled into my ribs. Laying in bed at night with Jeff talking about how great we think our kids are.
I’m trying to stop and watch my woods fill up with snow. When I do I can see all the love and meaning behind all those miles and promises stretched long before I can sleep.
What is making you stop this season? Can you hear the easy wind and downy flake?