No real snowflakes for the annual Snowflake Ceremony

By David F. Rooney

Each year the Hospice Society’s gentle Snowflake Ceremony at Queen Elizabeth Park helps people come together and find a small measure of peace in thge grief they feel at the passing of their loved ones from this world to the next.

This year was no different, except in one small particular detail: there were no real snowflakes softly falling from the sky — just raindrops.
Regardless, there was a sense of true communal healing. Thank you, Lord, for that.

Gary Sulz is no stranger to death and its effects on the human heart and this year he read a lovely poem, entitles Snowflake by Jill Eisnaugle to the 40 odd men, women and children who gathered for the ceremony:

The human heart is like a snowflake
With compassion, ever free
As each moment we are awake
We are bound in empathy
When we join to help a neighbor
Whose needs surpass our own
We shall find our gift of labor
Is the greatest glory known.
The gifts we give to another

Once our lives link, hand in hand
Are pleasures, like nothing other
When our deeds blanket the land
Just as the sunlight of winter
Often shines a lasting glow
Our hearts beam, when last we enter
Hope where once pain had bestowed.

 These snowflakes are quite distinctive
But their common ground is clear
Their ambitions are instinctive
From the moment they appear
While solo, their means are shallow
When united, they shall be
Pristine splendor, ever hallowed
With glamour for all to see.

The human heart is like a snowflake
Whose compassion freely flows
Each moment when we are awake
Like a drift destined to grow
For despite life’s squally weather
Much promise can be instilled
When our hearts unite together
In a blanket of goodwill.


Here are some images from this year’s rainy ceremony:

Rachel Kelly claimed to be a novice bagpiper but, wow, she was practically note-perfect at the start of the Hospice Society’s annual Snowflake Ceremony. David F. Rooney photo
Hospice Society Executive Director Andree Rioux (center) addresses the 40-odd people who gathered Sunday to remember their loved ones who have passed from this world to the next. Alas unlike previous years there were no real snowflakes — just raindrops. David F. Rooney photo
Baptist Pastor Rick Eby reminds the gathering that God the Son wept, as people do, and experienced sorrow. David F. Rooney photo
After the formal portion of the annual ceremony people gathered to sign snowflakes in their loved ones’ names. David F. Rooney photo
One by one they approached volunteers who hung their snowflakes from the tree. David F. Rooney photo
Unlike the usual crisp temperatures and dainty snowflakes, this year’s rain added a layer of sadness to the event. David F. Rooney photo