Have you had your first snowfall of the year yet? Here in Colorado Springs, the nearby mountains have been frost-topped for nearly a month now, but I hadn’t seen any snow here in town until a morning last week when a coworker announced — in excitement or dismay, I couldn’t quite tell — that it was snowing outside. A few of us gathered around the window to formally acknowledge the first snowflakes of the season, a ritual that always reminds me of school kids crowded around a classroom window chatting about sledding hills and school cancellations.*
Granted, this quick swirl of flurries was a rather pathetic showing as far as first snows go. But I’ve always found something pleasant and maybe a little magical about the first snowfall, and I went out walking for a few minutes over lunch, enjoying the colors and fragrance of autumn giving way to winter. While there surely wouldn’t be any accumulation that day, I did notice that the conditions were just right for individual, clump-free snowflakes, and I saw dozens of precise and symmetrical crystals preserved for a few moments as they clung to the fuzz of my blue sweater. Could the laws that generate such intricate masterpieces really happen by accident, as our world claims?
The walk turned into a moment of refreshment and worship for me — one of those rare times when faith seems, well, like more than faith. Confidence, maybe, or as Leif Enger once put it, a moment when certainty arrives “like light, like a piece of science.”
We all have moments of wavering. Times of questioning God’s work or His will or maybe even His very existence. But have you ever had an experience that seems to be the very opposite of doubt? A glimpse at God’s work during which faith in the Lord that is seems amplified to empirical certainty?
Of course, I can’t really share the moment with you. My pocket point-and-shoot camera really wasn’t up to the task, and I don’t even know that these experiences are something that one can give another. But before we get too deeply into winter, and before all the shoveling and scraping and bitter cold erases any sense of the magical, I encourage you to consider the tiny miracles of design that fall from the sky. If it’s not snowing for you now, one of the best places to do that is through the work of Caltech physicist Ken Libbrecht. Below is a video from Discovery TV that introduces his work, but be sure to click over to SnowCrystals.com to view some stunning photographs of snowflakes from around the world.
Reading through the articles on the Snow Crystals site, it’s clear that Dr. Libbrecht probably wouldn’t share my larger feelings about snow. He talks a lot about how, in nature, “things simply assemble themselves.” While I can appreciate Libbrecht’s technical expertise, it doesn’t dissuade me from the confidence that nature itself has been assembled.
* Speaking of snow days, did you know that the concept is supported in Scripture? Check out this passage from Job: “God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; he does great things beyond our understanding. He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth,’ and to the rain shower, ‘Be a mighty downpour.’ So that everyone he has made may know his work, he stops all people from their labor” (Job 37:6,7 NIV).