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Picture of God's Purity and Love

We have had a couple of snows here in Atlanta this winter that were built up by the media into impending blizzards, but turned out to be little more than light dustings. I am so enamored with snow, that I was willing to talk myself into the idea that we would be snowed in, and that I should therefore cancel all my scheduled appointments and social obligations. Both times, I prepared myself mentally for pleasant, cozy evenings by the fire, with popcorn and favorite beverage, watching the big flakes fall as I got snowed in. My friends from up north are still kidding me about being the only person in Atlanta that was snowed in.

I was disappointed but not embarrassed about my over-reaction, because, as far as I'm concerned, we all need to be "snowed in" from time to time. It's not just kids that love the escape from reality and responsibility that snow brings - adults do, too. Snow is surreal. It puts a person in a helpless, child-like frame of mind. Suddenly, everything looks and feels different, we're in another world. It's great. And at those times, we can have some of our most original thoughts.

One of the things I love about snow is that it transforms a world of color into one of black-and-white. Suddenly, the black trunks of trees stand out in dramatic silhouette. The blue sky turns grey, the green and brown earth is blanketed in white. Everything is stark and pure. Everything is soft and gentle. Everything is quiet and still.

If a rabbit, squirrel or fox comes out, all eyes are upon it. It cannot help but leave tracks. It will be noticed. Anything moving stands out, because everything else is still. Anything making a sound broadcasts, because everything else is quiet. It is an amazing world, and it does something to us. We start thinking creatively, outside the box, because the box no longer exists.

My dad loved snow as much as I. (My family is from North Carolina, where the snows are more frequent and beautiful, especially in the mountains.) The night before my dad's funeral, it snowed. I interpreted it as God's love blanketing our pain. But it also hindered a lot of people from coming home for Dad’s funeral, including the clergyman that was supposed to deliver the eulogy. That was disappointing. But one of the good things that came out of it was that the entire choir was able to be at the church to sing, because most of the businesses and all the schools had been closed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the choir loft more full, or a larger congregation at that church for a funeral. It was standing room only. Again, that was God's love.

Snow is a wonderful illustration of love, because it covers everything, just as love covers a multitude of sins. Love covers our mistakes - it lets us off the hook, just as getting snowed in lets us off the hook as far as our schedule. It also purifies and beautifies. Whatever ugliness exists disappears beneath the beauty of snow. Dirt disappears. Pain is forgotten. Everything is lost in the excitement and wonder of snow.

When I was a boy, my granddad would send me outside with a large glass measuring cup to pack full of snow so that he could make snow cream for my cousins and me. My granddad loved homemade ice cream, and snow cream was almost as good, just a bit icier. He was the best snow cream maker I've ever seen. Years later, some government agency warned that there may be harmful radiation and other impurities in snow, so we shouldn't eat it. What a disappointment! Think of all the kids that didn't get to grow up eating snow cream. I hope we have all since come to our senses and realized that our bodies can handle a few impurities. If we don't die from breathing air, we sure aren't going to die from eating snow that has passed though it.

Compared to a lot of other things, snow is very pure, and visually it is the purest thing in nature. Think of the imagination it took to come up with snow - to decide to cover everything in a blanket of white. I think snow is one of God's greatest ideas. It accomplishes, by grace, what none of us could by working: it covers, silences, stills, makes pure, makes beautiful, makes new a world that is loud, hurried, dirty, ugly, tired. It covers in love a world that is full of hate, it comforts a world full of pain. God does in nature what Christ did in the spirit realm. It's a wonderful picture, and I would like to see it as often as possible.


Waitsel Smith, February 5, 2008

Text © 2008 Waitsel Smith. Photos © various artists. All Rights Reserved.

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