My breath caught as I raised the shade of my bedroom window. A skilled but silent artist had been at work throughout the long hours of the night, passionately transforming the once stark, grey landscape.
The artist had deposited large quantities of his chosen medium on our deck, painstakingly rounding the railing and cushioning our currently unused deck furniture. A cottony coating reshaped the spiny, naked limbs of our backyard trees and lay unblemished across the lawn, which now expanded to include the pond. A lonely cluster of cattails pointing skyward was the only indication of the pond’s existence. Curvaceous billows of white softened the field beyond, where stubby stalks of harvested grain had bristled as recently as last evening.
Sunlight, struggling to emerge through lingering haze, cast a pink tinge across the entire scene. It pushed momentarily through flimsy clouds, illuminating delicate crystals dancing across the powdery surface. A few sparse snowflakes continued their freefall outside my window, shimmering and sparkling until the sun’s obscurity dimmed their descent once more.
One fresh snowflake landed on the pane even with my nose. Refocusing, I examined its intricacies.
First, I reminded myself that this diminutive wonder was created solely from water vapor, condensed into ice. Next, I recalled that individual snowflakes begin as hexagonal prisms, so I sought and then counted six points. Squinting, I identified spear-shaped endings on each.
I shifted my gaze and adjusted my height to view a newcomer to the glass. At first glance, it appeared to have more than six points, but a closer look revealed tiny icy fingers spreading from each of six branches.
Yet another arrival exposed a ring of six hollowed-out diamonds connected where their middles stretched to meet. A quick visual reassessment confirmed the unique design and perfect symmetry of all three snowflakes. Here on my bedroom window was art in its simplest, purest form.
Artisans, philosophers, and physicists may approach their study of snowflakes differently, but on this they all agree: it is highly unlikely that any two snowflakes in the entire world or history of the world are, or ever have been exactly alike.
As I dressed for the day I tried to imagine how many individual snowflakes must have drifted from heaven as I slept, lighting in feathery layers to coat our deck and trees, the lawn and the pond, the field and the rolling hills beyond, with half a foot of snow. Any plausible number was unfathomable. Multiply that unfathomable number by all the snows through all the centuries. Still, the experts assert that each snowflake is unique.
Outside my kitchen window cardinals and juncos landed on the bird feeder, adding contrast to the silvery scene. As I sipped my morning coffee my contemplation turned to the artist. How tirelessly he had toiled with broad, sweeping strokes from a palette of white throughout the past dark hours. Twice I had awakened, conversing with him as I often do, seeking peace and rest from the worries that had jostled me into consciousness. Each time the untiring artist had answered with his calming presence.
Now he spoke through his vibrant masterpiece. “I am the God of great beauty. I need nothing, but often use the rawest of materials. I delight in making old things new. I attend to the most intricate of details, yet my artistry extends well beyond the range of human vision. I am powerful, yet gentle; remote, yet intimate; silent, yet audible; incomprehensible, yet knowable. I am worthy of praise. I AM.”
My fingers flipped through the pages of my favorite breakfast companion, landing in the Psalms. There, with David I sang, “Praise the LORD. Praise the LORD from the heavens, praise him in the heights above…Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies…lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding…Let them praise the name of the LORD, for his name alone is exalted; his splendor is above the earth and the heavens.*”
Donning coat and boots I stepped with wonder into the artist’s rendering of a perfect winter day.
* Psalm 148: 1, 4, 8, and 13 (NIV)
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