The Theology in a Snowflake

Do you know the spell of a fresh snowfall? That unmistakable something that is in the air and in the blood, the dazzling beauty, intense and subtle and wild and gentle, transforming the world with tiny feathers of frozen water.  I want to stare and stare, and soak in all the delicate magnificence of the silent poetry of a snowfall. It is calming yet exciting, mesmerizing yet energizing. I want to laugh, and run, and dance, and exclaim like a child on Christmas morning. There is a little flame of pure joy in the heart of every snowflake, and millions of them dance through the air at a time, turning our little country hollow into a fairy land. I don’t know what it is about a fresh snowfall, particularly the first couple of the season, but somehow it gets into the blood like a little spark and surge of energy. The cold somehow doesn’t seem as cold. The wind, sweeping up eddies of snow, doesn’t seem as bitter. The blinding white makes me want to open my eyes even wider and take in even more.
IMG_9240e“A million feathers falling down, a million stars that touch the ground. / So many secrets to be found amid the falling snow.” Thus reads a line of one of Enya’s songs, which haunts me every winter. Each of those snowflakes is a tiny heavenly mystery, a tiny theology lesson, each attesting to the creative might of our Creator God and His power over all things great and small. Each is obedient to the laws of nature which He set in place, obedient to the freezing point of water and how water molecules align themselves when cooling, obedient to gravity, obedient to updrafts and downdrafts. Not a single snowflake acts outside the will of the Father. Each is unique. Each is a miracle. Each is a masterpiece. Each by their beauty and uniqueness attests to God’s perfect goodness and graciousness. What a glorious “extra” that God wasn’t at all bound to provide! So much glory poured into one perfect snowflake! And what a transformation is brought about by a whole sky full, loosed upon our Hills! IMG_9246eSo out I ventured this morning into the snowglobe world of whirling, dancing snowflakes, with my camera and the dogs, to wonder and marvel and delight. True to form, the dogs loved it and the cats hated it. The cats sulked while the dogs played. Trixie and Opal snapped and snarled in frisky ferocity, sometimes trotting down the driveway like little first grade girls, then running madcap around the whole yard, out across the dam, tearing around and rolling in the snow.

They clearly enjoyed the snow every bit as much as I did. Although I’m guessing they weren’t struck by the theology lesson.

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Pondering

One thing I love about photography is the changed perspective it provides. Even something as seemingly mundane as last summer’s grasses are enchanting, with the sunlight just so, highlighting the varied textures and colors of the winter. Photography provides an avenue for pondering. I find myself staring again and again at these pictures, even though I don’t consider them particularly good pictures, simply because there is mystery – The mystery of the beauty of Creation. If I sat down in a stand of tall grass without my camera, I would feel the warmth of the sun, the damp of the earth, I would see the blue of the sky and the way the sunlight catches in the fronds of grasses, and I would breathe deep the fragrance of a beautiful day. But with a camera, perspective deepens. Magic happens. Individual moments when the sunlight is perfect, individual stems of grass which could otherwise be lost in the tangle of grasses, individuals leaves and glints and glorious sparks of light, become visible.
IMG_2804eIMG_2795eI have heard it suggested that one’s perspective is limited detrimentally by the camera. Yes, the camera limits one’s perspective, but I heartily disagree that this limiting is a negative thing. God is infinite, and the many wonders of his Creation reflect that infiniteness. How are we finite human beings to process and understand it all? We can’t! Photography is a means by which we can impress on our mind’s eye more specific glories of God’s Creation. It is all too easy to miss the tree for the forest. In gazing at a whole field of flowers, it is hard to wonder at the flower itself – One instead wonders at the field. Focus smaller, closer, and it is possible to wonder at the actual flower.  Photography is an outlet for pondering, for deeply considering, for wonderment and awe and delight.

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.

Romans 1:20

Great are the works of the Lord; they are pondered by all who delight in them.

Psalm 111:2

Laura Elizabeth

Moments

I love those unrepeatable moments, those treasures that are captured with the brief opening of the camera shutter, and then are gone, and cannot be duplicated.
IMG_1695And I tried – I tried to come back to the same spot on the trail to have one more go at the leaves and the bokeh, but the spell had broken, the light had changed, and the cottonwood leaves were no longer flickering and flashing in the sky. But the magic lingers on.

Laura Elizabeth

Sunlight and Raindrops

After church yesterday afternoon, with thunder rumbling overhead, we took the Jeep to Rockerville Road to explore the backroads of the Black Hills. We had the dog and a picnic dinner, so essentially nothing was lacking!
IMG_1526Had it been dry, we would have gotten out and done a little hiking, or at least picnicked outside, but we drove in a steady drizzle and the dirt road was muddy and puddled. Not to mention, wet and muddy dog doesn’t smell very pleasant, and the backseat of the Jeep would have been pretty uncomfortable with a muddy Trixie sitting on our laps. The higher the road climbed, the louder the thunder got. We nearly bottomed out the Jeep once or twice, in places where the road was slick and deeply rutted, but Dad’s an experienced driver – Those places were the most fun, of course!IMG_1542IMG_1507We followed a side road for a little ways, right as the sun burst through the clouds. Dad stopped so I could get some pictures, and the aspen trees along the road caught my eye, sparkling in the rain, with the sunlight behind them and shining through the raindrops, making the leaves like glass. IMG_1522 I was with a coworker recently on a walk over our lunch hour, and I had my camera along. I showed her a picture I took while on our walk, and her response was, “How do you see that?” Well, you have to look for it. You have to determine to see beauty – If you look, it is there. “The heavens declare the glory of God!” There is so much beauty to revel in – Sometimes it is almost overwhelming, like the beauty of the aspen trees, and other times it is subtler, and becomes apparent only with a change in perspective. The knee-high, rain-wet grasses along that muddy forest service road seemed pretty mundane, until I crouched down in the mud to see the sun is glistening behind the golden stems. Then a whole new world of beauty opened up!IMG_1533It was a sun-spangled, rain-washed world.

Laura Elizabeth

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Christ in His Beauty

The human soul is drawn to beauty. We crave it. We hunger for it. A quick look through history will evidence how humanity has constantly been on a quest for beauty and all that it encompasses. I’ve heard it said that the standard of beauty has changed over the centuries. But this simply isn’t true. God is the creator of all that is good and beautiful. He Himself is the standard of beauty. God doesn’t change. So the standard of beauty has never changed.  It is people who have changed, and naturally there is some confusion. What is beauty?
IMG_1291Beautiful is that which is good, that which is undefiled, that which is pure. Beautiful is that which gives evidence to God’s created order. Beautiful is that which gives evidence to God’s love and care. Beautiful is that which gives evidence to God’s power and His might. Beautiful is that which points to God’s knowledge and wisdom. Beautiful is that which honors God.
IMG_1281The Psalmist wrote: “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4) One day, those who have trusted Christ as their Savior will stand face-to-face with the Standard and Creator of beauty, and we will be completely overwhelmed with fear and joy.  “Your eyes will behold the king in his beauty; they will see a land that stretches afar.” (Isaiah 33:17) What a day that will be!
IMG_1270Every time I go on a hike, or take a drive through the Hills, I am confronted with the beauty of the LORD. Some days, I am more sensitive to it than others, more aware or willing to wonder. He draws my eye to those things of beauty that He has showered through His world, and my heart aches. I am struck by the beauty of the LORD, the glory of His creation, the love He has lavished on us in giving us so beautiful a world to live in, to taste, to see, to hear, to touch, to smell, or in giving us senses at all. Everything we see, including the fact that there is even such a concept as beauty, is evidence of Someone who is greater than I am, evidence that Someone instilled in each human the knowledge of a Creator God. We can suppress that knowledge. We can deny it. But that knowledge is there. IMG_1298Over the last year or so, ever since arriving in the Black Hills and beginning to attend church in Custer, I’ve been learning more and more about God’s sovereignty, even over the little things. I think as Christians we often forget the little things, even though it is those little things that are so often present for us to enjoy, reminding us of the goodness of our Savior. If every good and perfect gift really is from God, and if God truly is the standard of beauty, then those delights I enjoy while marveling at the sunlight caught in flower petals or the shimmering gold of early yellow leaves or the spots on a fawn, then those delights are gifts from the loving hand of God. If something draws my mind to Jesus Christ, then that is a gift and should be cherished. IMG_1279For the Christian, we should set our minds on those things that glorify God, those things that cause us to consider Him. We should cultivate eyes that see His beauty, a heart that yearns for His beauty, and lips that speak of it. Philippians 4:8 commands: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

How many ills in the Christian life would be cured, simply by reveling in and cherishing our glimpses of the King in His beauty!

Laura Elizabeth

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Almost Overlooked

When I went for a walk this morning, two things almost didn’t catch my eye. But they did.
Fleabane budFlameAn unopen fleabane bud. And the flame in the heart of a dewdrop. Beauty can be so wonderfully manifest in the simplest of things – Only from the hand of God.

Laura Elizabeth