About mittonmusings

A Canadian, lifestyle blog with an inspirational twist!

A Simple Snowflake

In the heart of another Canadian winter, we trudge through the streets after another snow flurry on our way home after a day of work. My beloved is a good winter driver. I am not a good winter passenger. I white-knuckle it as we brake behind the slow-moving vehicle ahead of us (I am acutely aware of his brake lights seemingly minutes before my driver is and I cannot fathom why he has not braked yet). Our city is still digging out from a huge deluge of snow that was dropped on us a week or so ago. And we are about to add to the snowbanks yet again. We finally talk about something other than Covid. Consequently, my mind wanders to the great mystery of the simple snowflake. The topic of this week’s muse.

Snow is obviously made from snowflakes. Tiny ice crystals that fall from the sky… and pile up so high that we must move mountains in order to carry on with our daily tasks. I cannot even fathom the number of individual snowflakes that one snowbank contains, let alone a city full of snowbanks, or the country …or the world’s snow! Mindboggling. Most people are aware of the fact that snowflakes have distinct shapes. We’ve all seen them on our clothing or windshield. Perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to see them under a microscope. Here’s a pretty one:

Photo via Caltech

Did you know this is also a snowflake?

They say that individual snowflakes can be classified into 80 some snow types? That is amazing! Our Creator is wonderful, isn’t He?! We simply can’t duplicate it. Here is a picture of artificial snow. Basically water droplets froze in the cool air and sprayed on the ski hills for our enjoyment… without the creativity:

You wanna hear another interesting tidbit of snowy inspiration? The ice crystals form when a water droplet freezes on a dust or pollen bit in the sky. Crystallization causes the ice to form into the symmetrical patterns we then classify based on those patterns. Each one is unique because of the twists and turns the dust particle makes on its way down from the atmosphere. Yup, we shovel dirt in the winter… it’s just covered in water. Oh, but how beautiful does that dawn of the new-fallen snow look from our windowsill? All white and pristine, before it gets tarnished by salt and grime and snow tires. The hubby made this remark as we turned the corner onto our street. Sure, I say, just happy to be home alive again from the treacherous trip. It’s beautiful… dirt and water piled high…

So, let’s make a little object lesson from our snow this week. In Psalm 51:7, David prays – “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” Ever feel a little dirty on the inside? David could be our prime example of this object lesson. Yet, we are no less dirty. Our “specks of dust” twist and transform our ways and can pile up like the heaps of snow we shovel off the driveway. It has nowhere else to go. But, like that snowflake, God takes all that dirt… and covers it up to make something beautiful!

“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”  Isaiah 1:18 Our pure and just God cannot be tarnished by our unholiness, but when covered through Jesus’ sacrifice we shall be as white as snow! Our dust has been covered and only the beauty remains. What a promise!

Oh, friends, these days of Covid and snow and winter and isolation have many of us tired and fed up. We are heavy-ladened with the burdens of just trudging through… literally! Alas, our hope is full and it covers the dirt completely! We need cleansing and some good old fashion scrubbing to revive us so that we will be as white as the snow. I’m looking forward to finding that little bit of magic in all this. The silver lining … or should I say the white lightning in the simplicity of some dirt and a water droplet.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

The Simple Pencil

It’s been said that back in the 1960s during the space race, NASA spent a whack load of government money on designing a pen that would write in zero gravity. After all, how will ink run down a page if there is no gravity to pull it that way? How would the astronauts make notes on all the scientific stuff they had to do up there? A new and improved writing instrument must be designed! The Russian astronauts took a simpler approach: they used a pencil.

Photo: Yoann Siloine

All joking aside, I was musing this week about the simple pencil. I’m not sure why… it just happened to come to my brain. So, I looked it up. Faber-Castell, the who’s who of pencils, has been producing top-quality pencils for over 257 years. The leads (both coloured and the typical grey) are made with a clay-graphite mixture that is mixed, dried and basically glued between a sandwich of wood. The wood has to be strong enough to not snap under the weight of the writer’s hand, yet flexible enough to bend slightly for the stroke of the letter. That wood can be shaped in the round, hexagonal or square shape that we all know and love. Not to mention, sharpened to the perfect “tip”. Final exam writers, rejoice!

I love a sharp pencil. It just evokes great memories of the start of something new. A blank canvas if you will. Plus, it makes for remarkable colouring and shading. (re mark able — see what I did there?) Anyway… Have you ever thought about a simple pencil and the possibilities it holds? A funny little muse, isn’t it? Did all sumptuous writers think about the ink or the pen or the pencil they used? Plain paper or ruled? A notebook? Does everyone use a keyboard now? Have we lost touch with the true art of letter writing and letter making? They don’t even teach penmanship in schools anymore (and believe me, it shows!)

The ancient scriptures are one of the most unique collections of writing on the planet! I have no idea how the writers penned the scrolls… ink? chalk? Graphite pencil? Whatever method they used, we can be assured that the words bring promise and hope from an eternal God who cares for His people. And the simple words are our guides for both now and for all future generations! It always amazes me that the Bible is timeless. People have been reading it for hundreds of years… and the words still ring true. It’s because there is something supernatural immersed in those written words. Psalm 119 tells us it is a “lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path… our truth and our hope”.

Nothing like a sharp pencil — and the words it can make!

I’m guilty of not diving into the Word enough. There is such richness in the written word, and I don’t take full advantage of it as I should. Perhaps I should write out passages. Does anyone do this? I hear it is a great discipline to adhere to, especially in these days of digital screens. Graphite pencils and loss of handwriting skills be banished! Please share in the comments if you’ve tried this. I’d love to hear how it impacted you! Perhaps you’ve journalled with coloured pencils and brought scriptures to life. Share!

And so, my faith journey continues as I think about simple things and how they influence the complex. Oh, and that thing about the space pen? Apparently, some guy named Paul C. Fisher did spend millions in developing what later became known as “the space pen”… which uses a pressurized cartridge to make the ink flow. Even the Russians began using them. Who knew? We earthlings can purchase one for about $50. Maybe I should get one for jotting down sermon notes. Nah, I’ll stick with the simple pencil.

WONDER

Sitting alone in the dark solitude of our empty living room,
  sipping my morning coffee and looking out our front picture window
 into the distant panorama of a residential street that had yet to awaken,
  I listened to the empty silence of a cold winter's morning.
 The frozen landscape crackled with the winter's bitter wind... 
 a fridgid contrast to my warm blanket and hot drink.
 I couldn't help looking at everything and saying as God did, "It is good." 
Only my voice had a touch of wonder in it, 
 while His had only satisfaction. 
So many days are spent chasing obligations and deadlines and paycheques
 and nothing special seems to stand out worth remembering.
 But lockdowns and quarantines and five such minutes in my living room alone
 simply me and God, just being still and truly seeing, truly appreciating,
 are worth a lifetime of chasing.

It was written by me, but inspired by a devotional I recently read by Susan Lenzkes. It was a real experience but captured again as I read her words and tried to apply them to myself. As most of you know, my #wordoftheyear for 2022 is “magic”, so I have begun to actively seek out the moments of wonder and awe. To appreciate the little things. Facebook memories of my kids a hundred years ago. So cute all decked out for a Sunday morning service. Knowing we are safe and financially secure for the start of another year. Hating lockdowns and school online, but thankful that technology allows us education and the ability to connect with others. Full bellies. Warm houses and clean water.

So much we take for granted. So many wishes for this or that. I am reminded that life is really, really fragile. Tiny humans are born completely dependent. Many return to that state of complete dependence as we age. Time is not our friend. This fallen world and all the “bad” that is in it makes me wonder: “Why on earth?”

For some reason, Psalm 8 has been popping up in my world all this week. If you have time, look it up. David wondered “Why on earth?” too. I love learning about the idiosyncracies of this fabulous planet we live on. And all the creatures that share it with us. How inventive is our God who created every living thing? Yes, even one small virus who has the ability to mutate and change and manipulate an entire population of beings. He is in control, my friends! But it makes me wonder, like the psalmist, if God is in control of the big things like the universe and all the small things like corona viruses, then “what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” Somehow, He thinks we are worth it.

He looked at us, feeble humans, a little lower than the heavenly beings, and decided these made-from-dust creatures were worth loving and dying for. That you were worth dying for. That I was worth loving. Oh, the weight of those things! Wonder – full.

My wish for you and I this week is that we continue to be blessed in that realization. That we continue to seek for and see the wonder that is before us, behind us, and all around us. Will you join me as I look for it? Until next week, my friends!