Hoarfrost came down the other night. No, that’s not quite correct. Snow comes down—hoarfrost just appears.
Somehow, out of the air, moisture condenses on leaves, on twigs, on stalks of grass, in an infinity of crystalline improvisations.
And when daylight comes, ah, what beauty shines forth. The next morning, every blade of the long brown grass along the side of the road sprayed upward like a fountain. Ponderosa pines raised silvery pompoms high in the air. Oregon grape leaves shimmered with diamond dust. Even chain link fences traced networks of light.
The world was transformed.
I remember driving out of Edmonton one similar morning. The trees, the fields, the fences blended in a symphony of white. Until I saw it, I would not have believed there could be so many shades of white, all in perfect harmony with each other.
And yet conditions had changed only fractionally from the night before. The same air, the same trees, the same humidity—except that what had been invisible was now visible.
Hoarfrost helps me reflect on my experience of God.
I long ago gave up any belief in God as a supernatural being, somewhere “out there,” wherever that is.
That kind of God seems to me to be a hangover from days when we believed the Earth was flat; Heaven was up there, and Hell was down below. That perception of the world faded when Columbus didn’t sail over the edge.
It took its final beating when Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin first circled the planet in space. He said he looked for Heaven, up there, and didn’t see it.
But the notion persists. The conviction that God, if there is a God, must be separate, distinct and different. That God must be perfect, while this earthly existence is soiled, stained—what poet Gerard Manley Hopkins called “smeared, bleared with toil…”
In this view, that distant deity calmly watches while we humans fumble and bumble—but occasionally stirs the pot a little, to benefit His favourites and discombobulate His foes.
That’s not how I experience God. Not any more.
God is more like hoarfrost. Or like the humidity that hung invisibly in the air the evening before. I moved through it. I breathed it. It was all around me, touching every part of me. But I wasn’t aware of it.
Until a tiny change in temperature turned that humidity into hoarfrost. And I became aware of something that had been there all along.
Don’t misunderstand me here—I’m not equating God with nature. Mountains don’t care who won the Super Bowl. Trees do not clap their hands when you fall in love. Stars do not weep when a baby dies.
But God does.
That’s the difference. Nature is not necessarily hostile—it simply doesn’t care. But God does celebrate, does weep, does care.
Except that we’re not aware of that transparent presence until something changes the temperature of life—a birth, a death, a success, a failure—and makes that holy presence as evident as hoarfrost on a wintry morning.