Every time it arrives I find snow too wonderful to understand. It’s magical and inspirational and stirring. It disguises plain and ordinary in a masquerade of special and unforgettable. It turns eyesores and rubbish into mysterious hills and valleys dotting a wintery landscape. It erases boundaries with its continuous whiteness making one out of everything it touches.
It arrives with no fan fare, no rolling thunder or flashes or light. It humbly sails from seemingly nowhere, first by one’s then two’s then a cascade of riotous flakes dancing haphazardly to and from in free-fall to the place we mortals tread. It tumbles silently and stealthily as if sneaking up on its prey, and then unites together with it’s own kind to mound up and consume its earthly quarry; but it can also dust with a kiss and disappear. It’s lightness and ethereal nature is commanded by no man as it makes its choice to overwhelm with severity or enchant with solemnity.
Yet the most significant impact of these delicate flakes is its tremendous power to affect the human soul. At the mere sight of flurries my heart leaps for joy as if I were given consent to witness the miraculous. I am moved by the gentleness and lingering way each individual flake descends from the skies on its own personal journey, floating slowly as if hesitant to depart it’s heavenly storehouse. I am stirred by the softness with which each flake settles into its landing place, not intrusively or indiscreetly, but with reverence. To catch one is like a visitation.
I am melancholy as those first flakes received on a too-warm earth disappear as if they never existed – mournful their distinctiveness will never be replicated. Water pools like tears as the first sacrificial wave floats to its demise. Yet not in vain. Upon those frigid pools where beauty melts, an ever-colder earth grows more welcoming for the crystalline legions to follow. And when they arrive in companies too vast to number gravity itself seems suspended as moving snow-waves shift and float and roll giving the illusion of instability even to things rooted to the earth. Snow enters our world but we are quickly enveloped in its globe. For just that moment snow overshadows reality as we are suspended in her magic.
Who could ever create so magnificent a thing as the unfolding drama of snowfall? Surely no mere mortals who are only charmed so deeply in our dreams could conceive of such a gift. As clever as we are, snow is but one reminder that our greatest human achievements thrill only us and fall woefully short of glorious. We are mere imitators of a Master who reminds us that He alone holds the secrets that spin the universe and humble humanity.
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels[a] shouted for joy?
“Who shut up the sea behind doors
when it burst forth from the womb,
when I made the clouds its garment
and wrapped it in thick darkness,
when I fixed limits for it
and set its doors and bars in place,
when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
here is where your proud waves halt’?
“Have you ever given orders to the morning,
or shown the dawn its place,
that it might take the earth by the edges
and shake the wicked out of it?
“…Have the gates of death been shown to you?
Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness?
“…What is the way to the abode of light?
And where does darkness reside?
Can you take them to their places?
Do you know the paths to their dwellings?
“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow
or seen the storehouses of the hail,
which I reserve for times of trouble,
for days of war and battle?
What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed,
or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?
Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,
and a path for the thunderstorm,
to water a land where no one lives,
an uninhabited desert,
to satisfy a desolate wasteland
and make it sprout with grass? (Job 38)
Do you have an arm like God’s, and can your voice thunder like his? (Job 40:9)
Creation filled with things too wonderful to know point to a Creator too wonderful to miss.