This past week has seen 3 major snow producing storms race across the country, and there are more to come. One right after another has left some northern cities buried under multiple feet of snow.
When you look at these piles and piles of snow, it is very difficult to think about how many millions and billions of individual snowflakes are in those piles. When it’s falling we see the individual flakes, but once millions and millions of flakes have fallen, we see it all as one big pile.
Not only are there all of those individual flakes, they’re actually individuals. They are all unique. Every snowflake through all of time, there have never been two alike. Think about that, billions, trillions, gazillions, [insert very large number here] of snowflakes and none of them are identical. That’s AMAZING!
I used to think this was just something they told kids to fill them with awe and wonder of nature, but now that I know the science I’m even more in awe of nature.
We know that clouds are big groups of water in the air, but what does it take for all of those little water drops to become snow? First we need very cold air. Luckily, the air in wintertime clouds are almost always cold enough. Most winter precipitation starts as snow, but some melts as it goes through warmer air closer to the surface and gives us rain. If the air temperature is near freezing all the way to the surface, then it stays snow.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. How do those individual snowflakes form? You’ve got cold water droplets in these clouds, and when it freezes to a piece of pollen or dust, a snowflake is formed. This crystal then starts to fall towards the ground, encountering more and more water vapor and growing the crystal even bigger. When you have drier air, there’s less water vapor to bind to the flakes and you get small dry snowflakes. When the air is humid, a lot of vapor can be joined to the original snowflake and you end up with big “fluffy” looking snowflakes that add up to wet snow when it gets to the ground. This is the type that’s good for packing snowballs and snowmen!
The different pollen/dust types plus the different atmospheric conditions (temperature/humidity) help add to the variation of snowflakes, but the different possibilities of individual water droplets this snowflake may encounter make them each completely unique.
Just like the “gazillion” snowflakes through the millennia, no two humans are exactly alike either. This is difficult to wrap our brain around. You have familial lineages and twins/triplets/etc, how are there possibly no two exactly alike? There are people with the same DNA, but they’re still not exactly alike.
Scientifically, even with the same DNA, individual cells will duplicate and die differently leading to no two individuals with the exact same composition even if they look the same to the naked eye. Theologically, we all have our own individual souls that separate us in the eyes of God.
God knew the hairs on your head when he formed you in the womb. He knows all of your little individual quirks that set you apart from everyone else. He knows all of the special qualities that make you uniquely you, and he loves you. Those things you love about yourself, those things you hate about yourself, GOD LOVES YOU, exactly how you are.
This coming weekend is Valentine’s Day. I’m not entirely sure how a holiday all about romantic love got named after a celibate priest who died a martyr, but February 14th is the day we celebrate love! I will not get in the way of you showing a special someone that you love them, but I want to ask you to show love to someone else too, YOURSELF! You are a unique individual. God loves the quirks that make you you. Today, spend some time loving yourself with that kind of love. Celebrate the special qualities that make you unique! Thank Him for making you the beautiful child of God that you are.