There is an incredible Facebook video post of snowflake photography making the rounds. I love all the Seasons, but for me Winter is particularly full of wonder. It comes to play. It comes to stay. It comes as promised….kinda like a prophesied Star and Light. The arrival of a baby Messiah. Long after Black Friday, a Christ child’s Birthday Celebration, Vacations, New Years, White Sales, Resolutions and Refunds, Winter comes with Wrath and sometimes Tender Mercies. Some peaceful mornings, mid snow warnings, car alarms, the wake of snowplows, drifts, sub temperatures, rising, shoveling, commuting, stoplight exhaustion, and the coffee rush, PHEW! we pause to See what Winter has beautifully created.
She exhales. For a moment both She and we release our white knuckle grip on life to pause and to appreciate Natural Beauty and God’s generosity. At a glance, what Winter exhibits is simply aesthetically inexplicable. A Water Cycle is a miracle that some have renamed Science. I am reminded of this in a passionate young boy who knew it by both names and committed his life to observation, ingenuity, and photography. I share his story with my students, and Snowflake Bentley has become a favorite non-fiction, school read-aloud.
It’s best to hear it on a day that it’s snowing. Then you can do a Snowflake catch after the reading. Kids chatter, scatter, scramble, weave and catch. Then they repeatedly return to you in excitement with results for show and tell: evidence of dozens upon dozens of tiny flakes on black construction paper, which within seconds disappear like Harry Houdini. Nature is playground and snow is a sport that motivates kids to catch and release again and again.
So,today, as I shared the Facebook Snowflake bit, it didn’t take long before some of my teacher friends started liking it. One commented she struggled with cutting paper snowflakes as a child. This reminded me of a story:
The fine motor skills needed for cutting and folding can be developmentally tricky for kids. About a week ago, we had book report day in my classroom. Many taught drawing or cooking skills. One taught how to cut paper snowflakes. Another taught “How to…fold origami ninja stars” to the class. Immediately I thought of the book Blue Fingers. After a customary amount of time, I decided to give him extra time to shine…and he did. He commandingly taught a step by step lesson to his peers. I was curious how it would “unfold” and a visiting service provider was observing as well. Part way through the student began to frustrate. I hung back to see how he would handle it. Finally I stepped in so as to preserved good feelings. This is when he turned to me and said with disgust,” It feels like I’m babysitting them!” I hugged him, agreed, and replied, “Now you know what it’s like for teachers every day.” With a knowing, empathetic look he said,”I’m sorry” as if asking for forgiveness for his own daily doings.
I have concluded: Some of the most beautiful snowflakes (and children) are the halfsies. Does that make sense? Pretty sure God sees all His children as beautiful, even in our brokenness. God is an amazing Artist and Snowflakes are something to be grateful for! Happy MLK Day!