Spiritual Retreat: Ice Ferns

For the next few days,  I will continue posting a series of journal entries I made on a retreat last winter.  Every six months I try and take a few days away to regroup and focus on one spiritual master.  Last year, it was The Cloud of Unknowing.


Day 3: Ice Ferns

Dreams come and go, and I am stirred from my bed early today.  After sipping some water, I am drawn to my window again.

Then, it hits me like a thousands rays of light: the clouds have passed, the sun has freshly awoken, and the frozen world gleams.  I must get out among this wonder.

I practically jump into my wool and boots and pack my breakfast quickly.  Before I know it, I too have become part of this magnificent morning.  Perfectly deep blue skies grace this unfolding gift of a day as I walk into a vista that makes my jaw drop and spirit soar.   A trillion trillion ice crystals have formed on the slumbering, leafless limbs of these woods.  At closer look, each miniature crystal is like an ice fern with ten to twenty leaves.  One branch hosts perhaps a hundred crystals perhaps a thousand, and before me the blazing morning sun reveals a whole frozen wood, a greatly frosted forest.  Later, I learn they call this hoarfrost, where the temperatures dip more quickly than the trees, and the cold literally freezes the air vapors in millions of magnificent patterns.

On this one-decade day, I sit in awe of the detailed and careful artistry and know that in a few hours, all will melt.  The aged dichotomies of science and faith fade from my mind; I see this intermingling world of wonder and precision and, Oh, how the Mystery must be rejoicing at this beautiful artistry.  I alone will be its witness…