Friday, December 6, 2013


It took twenty two years before anyone discovered the connection between Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon and The Wizard of Oz. For twenty two years, the album stood alone, and even after it became Oz's brilliantly dark alternative soundtrack, the band shrugged their shoulders and said "I'm sure I don't know what you mean." Twenty two years.

A few days ago, I discovered something while piddling online that almost made my head explode, and changed the way I viewed God. It was as though I had unlocked some mysterious secret of the universe-- something as significant as the Grand Canyon or a redwood forest, hidden away & unnoticed for years.


No really, snowflakes.

Okay, maybe this was really just something I should have know a long time ago-- like someone running out into the streets and screaming that they had discovered a secret connection to Pink Floyd and The Wizard of Oz. Old news. But just in case you didn't know, let me let you in on a little secret: snowflakes are incredible-- like I said, mind blowing. Look at some of these microscopic photos and tell me it doesn't change your life.

The thing is, when we look at the Grand Canyon, or a redwood forest, it is difficult to be unaffected by the grandeur, the beauty, the magnificence. It is difficult for me to see something like that and doubt that there is a God, and that that God is good (and I often have my doubts). I feel small in comparison, but in a good way-- in a way that reminds me that my worries, my comings-and-goings are not quite as significant as I would like to think, and that there is a creator of beauty that is at work.

But these snowflakes-- these are something different. The Grand Canyon or an ancient giant of a tree is almost like showing off-- even gaudy in comparison to the delicate intricacy of a snowflake under a microscope. Everyday, millions and millions of these awe-inspiring crystals fall to the ground unnoticed, and melt unseen. Somewhere, a creator chisels out each one and lets them drop, undiscovered. We ask "Is there a God, and if so, is He good-- does He care?" and all the while, every day a million silent answers fall from the sky.

Maybe "answer" isn't quite the right word. When we ask God the big questions of Why?, the answer is usually not an explanation, but a statement: "I am." Why, God, is there pain & suffering? Why am I going through this? What is the point of all this? Even when Job asked, after all his suffering, Why? and God actually showed up to answer, his answer was basically "I am"... I am the creator of the heavens, the earth, the oceans, and the snowflakes. Strangely enough, that response satisfied Job's questions. It's not an answer that we need sometimes as much as the reassurance that we have a Creator who is good, who creates beauty-- around us and in ourselves-- who is big enough to keep the world spinning, but notices details and intricacies.

A snowflake doesn't end world hunger or heal my friend with cancer. It is so microscopic and delicate that all but the tiniest fraction go unnoticed. It is silent, beautiful, and undeniably created-- each one-- with care, thought, intentionality. To me, it speaks so clearly of a great joy-- the kind that comes when we make something that is Good, special. Only this creation-joy is spilling over, multiplied exponentially with every snowfall. It has no real purpose or function, was not meant to be seen or admired by anyone else, like humming to yourself when you think no one is listening. That is the image that comes to mind-- a creator humming to himself while doodling-- working, not to meet a deadline, or even to impress, but simply for the joy of creating. A God who was angry, disappointed, frustrated or uptight just wouldn't create a perfect microscopic star out of ice and send it floating down to earth for no particular reason.

It makes me wonder what else I am missing-- what simple everyday elements of life might reveal to
me some brilliant unknown. Oh, that I could approach even one day with that expectation-- even that hope. If there is joy in creating beauty, imagine the joy in discovering it for the first time.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Celebration

I admit that when I first started driving-- oh, about a hundred years ago-- I wasn't exactly a natural. I don't recall driving up onto the curb through any storefronts, or anything (that seems like the sort of thing you would remember), but I do know that I had a bit of a shaky start. And when my whole world changed three years ago-- my identity, my name, the way I talked, slept (or didn't), ate, thought, and spent my waking hours-- I had a bit of a shaky start then, too.

For some reason, I expected to come out of the starting blocks as a natural, and I panicked when I wasn't "good at" this new role that consumed every ounce of my attention. Now, with three years under my belt, it still doesn't quite feel natural, but thankfully the panic has subsided-- or at least been replaced by a subtle feeling that I have no idea what I'm doing. I haven't driven through any storefronts yet, though, and that is encouraging.

 Three years ago, I was handed this gooey, red, screaming, highly breakable thing that had just caused me nine months and twenty-something hours of varying levels of agony. It took us a long, long time to get used to each other, to enjoy each other, to feel comfortable together. Like I said, it was a shaky start. And yesterday, on my little man's third birthday, after almost loosing it at least a dozen times, I went to bed with an ironic smile on my face, and a deep peace that did not have a home in me when we first started together.

As I lay in the dark of a quiet, sleeping house, these were the words I wanted to tell him...

Nolan: Today (and everyday) you made me completely insane. You made me want to shout profanity. You made me swell up with warmth, and you reached a depth inside me that I never knew before you came into the world. You made me doubt myself, and acknowledge my need for God. You brought out ugliness in me, and helped me to see beautiful things I never would have noticed. You forgave me when I was short with you, when I was impatient, and when I was vacant. You forgave me, accepted me, and shared yourself with me over and over again-- your thoughts, your hopes, your fears. You made me laugh, amazed me with your brilliant imagination, challenged and stretched me.

I celebrate you today, my incredible little boy-- celebrate who you are, who you will be, and who you have shaped me to be.