The snowflake is such a perfect symbol for the holiday season.
The snowflake is a creature all its own, a power player if there ever was one, with distinct characteristics, though it is also a special version of water – that wondrous transmuter, able to come to us in so many forms. The big piece for me about the snowflake is in its lesson about the power of connection.
Let’s start at the beginning, up in the clouds.
The snowflake begins with the base of a grain of dust floating in a cloud.
Next, water vapor in the cloud condenses on and around the dust particle and freezes into a tiny ice crystal. These ice crystals then join together forming into a snowflake. The size of any given snowflake is determined by how many of these ice crystals come together. Generally, a snowflake is really a community of about 200 ice crystals in the shape of a hexagonal prism. As snowflakes fall from the sky at 3-4 miles per hour, they tumble and swirl, affected by local air currents and conditions, floating through clouds that have different temperatures and moisture contents, thus shaping each snowflake in a unique way. So, the gentle snowflake is a created community, with each community being a uniquely shaped collection.
There is a whole other thing that occurs when one snowflake meets another.
Here is the lesson of the power of connection all over again, just in larger measure. The snowflake comes together to form this beautiful substance that insulates the ground, including the tree roots during winter from penetrating cold that would otherwise kill the tree. So, another quality of this connection and community is protection.
Snowflakes also connect and hold the power of the “right of weight.”
As a larger interconnected community, that we call “snow,” snow can shape the land, rivers, and even wear down rock, and it can do so quietly, slowing, but inexorably. Here are the lessons of the power of patience and persistence.
There is also the lesson of what can happen when one sticks together with others of its ilk; Massive transformations are possible, even worldwide repercussions. Look at how the icecaps, enormous conglomerates of snowflake communities, help temper the whole planet. This is some serious power, people, all emanating out of what began as a dust mote in a cloud and a vaporous water molecule!
I will mention this one final bit, though it is by no means the last word on this subject. The snowflake teaches us the lesson of the power of sheer beauty of Creation. What other substance do you know that changes the entire landscape into a white wonderland, and does it silently, in the most unassuming way? May my wonder and yours as our eyes set on the tiny, but oh-so-powerful snowflake always remain, and may its lessons resound and stay with us.
May the lessons of the humble snowflake brighten your holiday season and your new year.