It was one of those days, uneventful, moody, and inert enough to let the tempest of flames rage freely in my chest. Those days where, without knowing why, everything is wrong, and I’m often on the brink of tears with nothing tangible to account for it.
I felt small. Smaller than small. Disposable. Insignificant. Even my miseries were contemptible. The world was suffering on a colossal scale, and here I was thinking about my broken wings; those appendages of spirit that have been tethered and crippled. But I felt the world’s suffering, too. I also felt tortured, when I heard news of an abused child. I also felt bereft, when I saw another grieve. I felt sick to my stomach and despaired too when images of bloody innocents assaulted my eyes. I felt their suffering, as well. I was a girl with broken wings and the burden of Atlas on my back.
This day, I remember clearly. It was a snowy winter’s morning, colder than neglect, but not bitter. I had climbed into the backseat of my mother’s car and thought, with a sickening twist in my stomach, how the rapid shivers I was suppressing in my arms and legs would eventually abate, but not with those who have to stand outside in the snow, dependent on man’s imagined generosity. This day, I was wondering where God’s grace was, to help us wretched humans, who hour after hour grow more unfeeling. This day, I saw no beauty in this world of miseries.
After the shivers slowed to a slight tremble, I leant my forehead on the hazy windowpane and gazed, unseeing, outside. It had been snowing all morning, but the sun was out and the snow was light and downy – almost cheerful. I should have been buoyed by the jocund surroundings, but it was one of those days. As my unfocused eyes followed wayward lines in the mist, I blinked suddenly when a snowflake blew across the windowpane and settled in a corner.
It was perfect. Miraculously unbroken, and just large enough for me to make out its details if I squinted a bit. I marveled at its precise symmetry and geometric designs reminiscent of the patterns on the walls of the Martyr’s shrine. I watched it with ardor, admiring its delicate architecture, but it didn’t remain long. First it broke then melted under the sun’s jealous gaze, leaving, momentarily, a shadow of itself in water form.
I sat back in my seat and mused, “Who is this for?”
I looked out the car window, now clearer after the mist had dried off, to the snow outside and thought again, “Who is this for?”
This one little snowflake, miraculous in its perfection, was one of countless others, all beauteous and unrepeated. I saw them everywhere; over lawns, branches, rooftops; packed into ice underfoot and turned into sludge on the streets. How many were there? Could anyone count them? Does anyone care? He counts them, certainly. He counts them even before they fall.
I thought, “Why?” and this word flurried in my mind like a drifting snowflake. Why? What for? No one could see them. I could barely see the one that landed on my window, and that was by chance. What of the bazillion others that are created just to break or melt or be stepped on mere seconds after their existence?
Who is this for? Who is all this beauty – this perfection – for? Who can see it and enjoy its beauty? Humans? We only begrudge the snow. Why does He fashion such breathtaking little things and grace the blind world with it, then let them pass from existence before one of the blind could begin to see what they truly are? Why create things so small, so insignificant, and make them so utterly beautiful?
I began to fight back tears. He was so Good, so Kind. Even that snowflake was Loved by Him who gave it symmetry and grace. He Loved it enough to make it, and let it fade from this world but not from His Love. He loved it, and created it and gave it from His Beauty, and that is no insignificant thing at all. Merely to exist is to be Loved. And to be Loved is to be Beautiful.
How much like snowflakes we are, I thought then. How much we are Loved.
“Our Lord! Not for naught Hast Thou created (all) this! Glory to Thee!” (The Holy Quran 3:191)