Glorify the Lord, O chill and cold,
drops of dew and flakes of snow.
Frost and cold, ice and sleet, glorify the Lord,
praise him and highly exalt him for ever.
(~From the Book of Common Prayer)
Wilson“Snowflake” Bentley is one of my artist/scientist heroes. He spent a lifetime paying attention to something hardly anyone else ever paid attention to – snowflakes. (He was also fascinated with other tiny bits of creation, like raindrops and dew.) He spent years developing a technique to photograph snowflakes, in a day and age when that seemed impossibly hard. His creativity and patience seemed to know no bounds.
So when I see something like this article, posted by two of my dear nieces on FB, I find myself smiling with gratitude but also recognition. The work of this photographer, Alexy Kljatov, is beautiful and amazing, and clearly still takes innovation and patience (see his blog post, here, on his photographic techniques) but you realize too how much easier it is using the photographic equipment we have today, and how much he stands on the shoulders of a pioneering giant like Bentley. Perhaps that’s truer than we know for most artistic and scientific endeavor, though we don’t always remember it.
I also smiled over the opening line from the commentator who posted the pictures of Kljatov’s work, calling attention to the “impossibly perfect” design of snowflakes. She writes: “One of the true wonders of the world are snowflakes, tiny designs made of ice that are so individually unique, so detailed, and so spectacular it's hard to comprehend that they happen naturally and aren't pulled from the depths of our own imaginations.”
Uh-huh. Might it not indicate, perhaps, that the depths of our own imaginations, wonderful as they are, are themselves the creation of someone whose imagination is far deeper and vaster than our own? I love that God creates snowflakes, which in our puny understanding don’t need to be so incredibly beautiful (considering their size and transience) and yet just are. They are stunning, unique, intricately pattered. They are clearly exercises in artistic delight. And they appear to “happen naturally” (you’ve got to smile over the hint of casualness the word “happen” evokes) because he has placed this kind of beauty into the very ordinary unfolding fabric of the world. Praise Him!