Friday, January 11, 2013

The Snowflake Man

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio 

“In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered by setting me free. The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalm 118:5-6
This is the verse of the day at Bible Gateway today and while it speaks to me in quite a profound way I am not at a place of being ready to write about it. I do have a small project that I need to work on for Sunday's service and so I hope you will indulge me as I spring board this post off of a different verse. 

Psalm 51:7 (NIV1984)
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

We have had a lot of snow lately. I don't really mind it on days where I can stay at home and don't have to be out driving on the icy streets. I'm sure my homeless friends are tired of it too. I know on the few occasions when I got to go skiing that it was the most amazing sense of exhilarating freedom almost as if one's mortal body could take flight. So my thoughts on Snow today are more of an art reflection with a bit of insight in to the wonder of God's creation that we often fail to stop and enjoy. 

In my homeschooling journey with my children I came across a story about the Snowflake Man, Wilson Bentley. Wilson grew up on a farm and was self educated. He lived in the late 1800's in a rural town in Vermont. He figured out a way to attach a camera to a microscope and was the first person to photograph snow crystals. During his life he photographed more than 5000 snowflakes and discovered that no two were ever alike. Each one was a unique artistic work. He writes, 


"Under the microscope, I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Every crystal was a masterpiece of design and no one design was ever repeated., When a snowflake melted, that design was forever lost. Just that much beauty was gone, without leaving any record behind."Snow Crystal Image Link to snowflakes page

Link to snowflakesWilson "Snowflake" Bentley 1925


So I was thinking about how snow is not really white - we only see it as white. I found a good quote that better explanes this phenomena.  "So, since snow is frozen water, and we all know that frozen water is clear, why does snow have a distinctive color? To understand this, we need to back up and look at an individual piece of ice. Ice is nottransparent; it's actually translucent. This means that the light photons don't pass right through the material in a direct path -- the material's particles change the light's direction. This happens because the distances between some atoms in the ice's molecular structure are close to the height of light wavelengths, which means the light photons will interact with the structures. The result is that the light photon's path is altered and it exits the ice in a different direction than it entered the ice.

So where am I going with this in a spiritual sense. First off there is the incredible artwork of millions upon millions of snow flakes through out time. Each one unique most never looked at very closely. Yet God see and He knows and He has built amazing detail into our universe and much of it we can't even begin to fathom or appreciate fully.

The other thing I wanted to bring out was how he washes us so that we are whiter than snow. Snow looks white because of how the light bends and bounces off of it in a differing directions. We are whiter than snow not because we are so pure or spotless but because when God shines his light on us it passes through Jesus in us much like light passes through ice crystals. It bends and bounces and refracts in a whole new way. 

The third point I want to make is that just like snowflakes each and every one of you is unique. No two are ever the same and each one is wonderful and marvelous in its own right and just like snowflakes all too often we don't bother to marvel at the craftsmanship of each and every life. Like snow flakes our lives are very short and quickly pass away. So my challenge to you is that you would set aside all the troubles and burdens and concerns for a moment and take some time to marvel at the artistry of our God in both snow flakes and in people around you as you worship the Lord today. 

Prayer: Lord thank you for your extravagance. That you do not scrimp on the details even when now one notices. You also did not scrip on the details in each of us. We are each fearfully and wonderfully made and each represent your amazing artistry. Help us to see that unique beauty all around us - but most of all help us to see it in our selves and realize in a fuller way how much you love us.  

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