Spirit Quest - On the fading frost art form

 

Spirit Quest
 
Sealing our homes may be putting Jack Frost out of work
 
But the essence of the spirit remains in all things living
 
By The Rev. Dr. Hanns F. Skoutajan
True North Perspective
 
I  miss ice flowers on the window panes. They have all but disappeared. I was recently reminded of this wondrous phenomenon by a small book, Frost on the Windows: Nature’s Mysterious Art. Janice Street has collected beautiful photos  of windows decorated by an artist by the name of Jack Frost.
 
Some years ago we lived  in a graceful old stone house. It was even then more than 100 years old. It was beautiful to look upon but living there soon made us aware that technology needed to improve our living conditions. My wife can wax eloquent on this subject.
 
The Old Manse had windows glassed many years ago. After the first cold night ice decorations made them opaque. We marvelled at the lifelike patterns of flowers, particularly ferns, that covered their surfaces and wondered about this mystery.
 
Reading Adam Gopnik’s book Winter, the 50th CBC Massey Lecture, reminded me of this natural wonder. He recalled that for many years  it was believed that they were created by a divine hand  and that they conveyed messages about life and death.
 
Gopnik tells that the German Romantic poets  “became fascinated by these forms and troubled by the question  whether they were truly living forms, made by the hand of God, or merely mimicry, an accident, a random constellation of crystals that seemed to be alive.”
 
Better glass, triple pane, and more efficient heating has largely eliminated that art as well as robbing us of a source of enchantment.
 
Flipping to another season and a southern clime, Costa Rica, I recall one day walking on the Pacific beach where I encountered a woman with a sophisticated camera. She was not photographing the spectacular breakers that rolled in or the rocky crags that stuck out of the boiling sea, or the elegant palm trees swaying in the ocean breeze. I was puzzled  for she seemed to be photographing the sand around her.
 
When she noticed my curiosity she invited me to “look and see the pictures left by the retreating tide!”  Indeed, tiny black particles of soot-like sand left patterns on the white sea shore, like an artist working in charcoal. She was recording them and had already published a folio of this “art.” Of course I followed her example.
 
Gopnik’s Winter is a must-read for people in the True North. He tells of living in the winter, of winter sports and hazardous arctic explorations and much more. He also tells of the  fierce argument that erupted between Goethe, the German philosopher, poet and playwright and his friend Knebel about  the nature of these “ice blumen” ice flowers. A spiritual man he nevertheless insisted on a scientific explanation.
 
Has scientific knowledge deprived us of a source of wonder and mystery? Or, as with beauty, is it in the eye of the beholder?
 
Wordsworth wrote  that “heaven lies about us in our infancy.” I have noticed it in my granddaughter, who is utterly fascinated by tiny things such as bugs and flowers. Almost ffive years old I can see her surfacing from the sea of mystery to a more rational understanding of nature. However,  happily it has not yet dissipated her — but it's, well, different.
 
As I age, I sense a longing for the spiritual. You who are readers of my essays will have noticed that I find the spiritual presence in almost everything. It is how I close all my stories.
 
I long ago abandoned a belief in a God made in the image of man, that is a divinity who like his creatures gets angry, vindictive, jealous, as well as loving and forgiving or more often absent. Nor is this God for me simply a simplistic definition of what I can’t understand. I prefer to speak about the Spirit rather than a God who is loaded with human baggage. I prefer to believe that that Spirit is an energy informed by Love. 
 
My sense of the spiritual is not enhanced or destroyed by arguments pro and con. It is simply there, a mysterious presence that transcends space and time and moves me to responsible living with a community of people.
 
Fern ice on the windows  or patterns in the sand , music, small children, laughter and tears as well as tales of sacrifice and hope fill me with wonder. Perhaps you will tell me that “heaven lies about me in my senility.”
 
The Spirit Is.
 
I  miss ice flowers on the window panes. They have all but disappeared. I was recently reminded of this wondrous phenomenon by a small book, Frost on the Windows: Nature’s Mysreious Art .Janice Street has collected beautiful photos  of windows decorated by an artist by the name of Jack Frost.
 
Some years ago we lived  in a graceful old stone house. It was even then over 100 years old. It was beautiful to look upon but living there soon made us aware that technology  needed to improve our living conditions. My wife can wax eloquent on this subject.
 
The Old Manse had windows glassed many years ago. After the first cold night ice decorations made them opaque. We marvelled at the lifelike patterns of flowers, particularly ferns, that covered their surfaces and wondered about this mystery.
 
Reading Adam Gopnik’s book Winter, the 50th CBC Massey Lecture, reminded me of this natural wonder. He recalled that for many years  it was believed that they were created by a divine hand  and that they conveyed messages about life and death.
 
Gopnik tells that the German Romantic poets  “became fascinated by these forms and troubled by the question  whether they were truly living forms, made by the hand of God, or merely mimicry, an accident, a random constellation of crystals that seemed to be alive.”
 
Better glass, triple pane, and more efficient heating has largely eliminated that art as well as robbing us of a source of enchantment.
 
Flipping to another season and a southern clime, Costa Rica, I recall one day walking on the Pacific beach where I encountered a woman with a sophisticated camera. She was not photographing the spectacular breakers that rolled in or the rocky crags that stuck out of the boiling sea, or the elegant palm trees swaying in the ocean breeze. I was puzzled  for she seemed to be photographing the sand around her.
 
When she noticed my curiosity she invited me to  “ look and see the pictures left by the retreating tide!”  Indeed, tiny black particles of soot-like sand  left patterns on the white sea shore, like an artist working in charcoal. She was recording them  and  had already published a folio of this “art.”Of course I followed her example.
 
Gopnik’s Winter is a must-read for people in the True North. He tells of living in the winter, of winter sports and hazardous arctic explorations and much more. He also tells of the  fierce argument that erupted between  Goethe, the German philosopher, poet and playwright and his friend Knebel about  the nature of these “ice blumen” ice flowers. A spiritual man he nevertheless insisted on a scientific explanation.
 
Has scientific knowledge deprived us of a source of wonder and mystery? Or, as with beauty, is it in the eye of the beholder?
 
Wordsworth wrote  that “heaven lies about us in our infancy.” I have noticed it in my granddaughter who is utterly fascinated by tiny things , bugs, flowers etc.  Almost 5 years old I can see her surfacing from the sea of mystery to a more rational understanding  of nature. However,  happily it has not yet dissipated her fascination - but its, well, different.
 
As I age I sense a longing for the spiritual. You who are readers of my essays  will have noticed that I find the spiritual presence in almost everything. It is how I close all my stories.
 
I long ago abandoned a belief in a God made in the image of man, that is a divinity who like his creatures gets angry, vindictive, jealous as well as loving and forgiving or more often absent. Nor is this God for me simply a simplistic definition of what I can’t understand.  I prefer to speak about the Spirit rather than a God who is loaded with human baggage. I prefer to believe that that Spirit is an energy informed by Love. 
 
My sense of the spiritual is not enhanced or destroyed by arguments pro and con. It is simply there, a mysterious presence that transcends space and time and moves me to responsible living with a community of people.
 
Fern ice on the windows  or patterns in the sand , music, small children, laughter and tears as well as tales of sacrifice and hope fill me with wonder. Perhaps you will tell me that “heaven lies about me in my senility.”
 
The Spirit Is. 
 
Hanns F Skoutajan
 
SQ 03/02/12        
I  miss ice flowers on the window panes. They have all but disappeared. I was recently reminded of this wondrous phenomenon by a small book, Frost on the Windows: Nature’s Mysreious Art .Janice Street has collected beautiful photos  of windows decorated by an artist by the name of Jack Frost.
 
Some years ago we lived  in a graceful old stone house. It was even then over 100 years old. It was beautiful to look upon but living there soon made us aware that technology  needed to improve our living conditions. My wife can wax eloquent on this subject.
 
The Old Manse had windows glassed many years ago. After the first cold night ice decorations made them opaque. We marvelled at the lifelike patterns of flowers, particularly ferns, that covered their surfaces and wondered about this mystery.
 
Reading Adam Gopnik’s book Winter, the 50th CBC Massey Lecture, reminded me of this natural wonder. He recalled that for many years  it was believed that they were created by a divine hand  and that they conveyed messages about life and death.
 
Gopnik tells that the German Romantic poets  “became fascinated by these forms and troubled by the question  whether they were truly living forms, made by the hand of God, or merely mimicry, an accident, a random constellation of crystals that seemed to be alive.”
 
Better glass, triple pane, and more efficient heating has largely eliminated that art as well as robbing us of a source of enchantment.
 
Flipping to another season and a southern clime, Costa Rica, I recall one day walking on the Pacific beach where I encountered a woman with a sophisticated camera. She was not photographing the spectacular breakers that rolled in or the rocky crags that stuck out of the boiling sea, or the elegant palm trees swaying in the ocean breeze. I was puzzled  for she seemed to be photographing the sand around her.
 
When she noticed my curiosity she invited me to  “ look and see the pictures left by the retreating tide!”  Indeed, tiny black particles of soot-like sand  left patterns on the white sea shore, like an artist working in charcoal. She was recording them  and  had already published a folio of this “art.”Of course I followed her example.
 
Gopnik’s Winter is a must-read for people in the True North. He tells of living in the winter, of winter sports and hazardous arctic explorations and much more. He also tells of the  fierce argument that erupted between  Goethe, the German philosopher, poet and playwright and his friend Knebel about  the nature of these “ice blumen” ice flowers. A spiritual man he nevertheless insisted on a scientific explanation.
 
Has scientific knowledge deprived us of a source of wonder and mystery? Or, as with beauty, is it in the eye of the beholder?
 
Wordsworth wrote  that “heaven lies about us in our infancy.” I have noticed it in my granddaughter who is utterly fascinated by tiny things , bugs, flowers etc.  Almost 5 years old I can see her surfacing from the sea of mystery to a more rational understanding  of nature. However,  happily it has not yet dissipated her fascination - but its, well, different.
 
As I age I sense a longing for the spiritual. You who are readers of my essays  will have noticed that I find the spiritual presence in almost everything. It is how I close all my stories.
 
I long ago abandoned a belief in a God made in the image of man, that is a divinity who like his creatures gets angry, vindictive, jealous as well as loving and forgiving or more often absent. Nor is this God for me simply a simplistic definition of what I can’t understand.  I prefer to speak about the Spirit rather than a God who is loaded with human baggage. I prefer to believe that that Spirit is an energy informed by Love. 
 
My sense of the spiritual is not enhanced or destroyed by arguments pro and con. It is simply there, a mysterious presence that transcends space and time and moves me to responsible living with a community of people.
 
Fern ice on the windows  or patterns in the sand , music, small children, laughter and tears as well as tales of sacrifice and hope fill me with wonder. Perhaps you will tell me that “heaven lies about me in my senility.”
 
The Spirit Is. 
 
Hanns F Skoutajan
 
SQ 03/02/12        

Add new comment