The snow lies deep, unsettled against the sharp wind. Here in the north woods the winter sun falls cold between storms. The sun’s course lowers to a shallow arc, it’s apex briefly dividing morning from afternoon. Evenings bring long, golden fingers gradually giving way to dusky blue.
The snow sparkles, each slight breeze smoothing the surface, filling the tracks left by the one squirrel daring to leave his nest to scramble across the drifts.
Winter here “keeps the riffraff out”, the locals say as they gather in the Sportsmen’s Cafe. Most small towns up here have one, where they gather over hearty breakfasts in their camo caps and flannel to shake their heads over the latest government crisis before settling in to discuss more pressing concerns, like ice fishing.
I step outside, the cold knifing through my chest as I breathe in too deep in this sparkling, stinging world. It’s hard to imagine the lush green coming in a few short months. The cold can’t stop the earth’s relentless rotation into spring, far as it seems today.
Minnesota winters are harsh, but they are also spectacular. The snow falls in curtains or in fairy dust, like a fresh start. Like a whisper. I don’t wish for spring, yet.
Soon the tide will turn. The ice will melt to feed the flowers, nourish the coming green. I have been contemplating beauty lately, how we are created to perceive and appreciate it. How God creates the subtle colors of a winter’s evening. He turned Abram’s gaze to the stars. He revealed his ways to Job in stunningly beautiful poetry. There is no limit to his expression.
I feel sad for those who hold to a utilitarian view of the universe, of creation, of people. Life becomes a means to an end – an end that is never quite realized. Imperfect children are eliminated before they can disrupt the order so carefully balanced. And to what end? Will we ever achieve the control we seek? The men at the cafe acknowledge God as they hunt and fish in these woods and waters. No matter how they keep him at bay, they still give a nod to his existence, puzzle over those who would try to deny it.
This one brief life is packed with beauty if we will only stop and see. If we will only remove our AirPods long enough to listen. Whales sing and bees dance. Ordinary birds soar in synchrony. Uncountable trillions of snowflakes adorn my yard, no two alike. No other creature seems aware of the glory around us, but we have been specially formed to appreciate it. Do we realize what this means? This body, this creation, this planet, this universe pulses with beauty and wonder, pointing, shouting the glory of an artist God who creates in stunning and incomprehensible ways for his pleasure and ours.
Take a breath and marvel at the life pumping through your body. Look up and see the stars, the clouds, the sun’s rising and setting. Listen to the music of a language not your own, to a baby’s babbling, to the dreams of a friend. We were made to be more than producers and consumers; we were made to wonder. And in the wonder, to praise.
The snow falls soft outside my window, swirling and dancing, frosting the woods in the evening light. I lift my brimming heart to heaven, my soul alive in the noticing, my spirit alight in this sacred space of worship on this, another blessed, ordinary day.