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

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!

#WordoftheYear 2022

Well, we made it to another year… kicking and screaming, maybe, but here we are! It’s been a rollercoaster of ups and downs again in 2021, with the global pandemic hanging over us yet again. Still, time travels on. A constant in this world of upheaval. Time doesn’t seem to stop for anyone… or anything. And so we arrive at 2022.

As many of you will recall, for 2021, I chose a #wordoftheyear. It was my first attempt at such a thing, and I think it went off rather well. (You can read some of those thoughts here) It’s different from a resolution or goal… it can be interpreted differently throughout the year’s circumstances, and may appeal to you in a variety of situations. For 2021, my word was “brave”. I felt it. I failed at it. I focused on it.

This year, * drumroll please * my word is magic. When my eldest son was younger, he loved magic tricks… he learned a few and put on performances where he would “wow” us with his slight of hand. We saw magicians in Vegas and on tv specials and ooohed and ahhhed at the magic and wondered “How’d they do it?” But when I picked this word for 2022… this is not the definition of magic I had in mind. This magic is trickery and illusion. There’s enough of that out there in the world. I certainly don’t need to focus on that kind of magic.

Photo by Almos Bechtold on Unsplash

No, when I chose the word, maybe I was thinking about miracles. Maybe I was thinking about the unexpected. Maybe I was thinking about the astonishing. Perhaps I wanted to focus on the little things in life that are magic… things that used to make me oooh and ahh, but have been pushed aside by my practical side. Things that brought a little joy into people’s lives for no reason other than it was fun… like sparkles and sprinkles. Covid has robbed us of some of that. We have become consumed with sanitizer and sterility. I need some fairy dust in my year. I need some ribbons and confetti and spur-of-the-moment decisions — because I really don’t like those things. I fret at the cost and the environmental impact and the lack of frugality to those things. The people around me do like those things, though, and maybe we both need a little magic to brighten our days up this year.

I’m not so good at making magic. I miss the little ones at school who forced you to see the magic. The wide-eyed attention they gave when they just knew that something cool was about to happen. I want to be the wide-eyed one this year. I want to create those experiences for those around me… through my actions, through my faith in a great big God who still does miracles, and through my attention to the small details that allow me to see the everyday miracles. I want to delight in the smells and sounds and sights of a great big world around me and be astonished at it. I want to say, hey God, “How’d ya do that?” Magic.

I also think about magic in the sense of “ta-da” moments. When the hankies disappear into the hat. When the puff of smoke turns the bird into the beautiful lady. I’m learning how to make things new again — by fixing, painting, fluffing and upcycling. I am learning to love the ta-da moments of my projects when I can say Ha! Look at how that just turned out! Magic. Things transformed from one thing, into another… that’s a magic God loves to see, too. And I hope it will be part of my journey this year, too. I long to share it with you, my friends on this little piece of the internet where we dream big and fail hard. Where we think deeper and muse mightily.

So, my friends, “cheers” to another new year! May our year be filled magic, wonder and a little bit of mystery… and a good dose of musing about it all!