Now that Boston is buried under more than 100 inches of snow and my Cleveland driveway is coated with it yet again, I decided to reflect on snow. A good snowfall is one human experience that Jesus never had since he lived in a desert climate. The most he probably ever knew of snow was seeing snow-capped Mount Hermon in the distance. But yesterday ten inches of snow fell in Jerusalem—a rarity! To me the most remarkable thing about snow is its beauty. Individual flakes are delicate works of art. Together they form blankets of pure white, covering everything and sparkling in sunshine. Snow’s loveliness is a reflection of its Creator who is all beautiful. The three men thrown into a fiery furnace for their faith sang, “Hoarfrost and snow, bless the Lord; praise and exalt him above all forever” (Daniel 3:70). Also, there’s nothing so cozy as being in a warm house and, through a window painted with lacy ice, watching large, soft snowflakes drift to earth.
Snow has a wonderful role in my childhood memories: making angels in it, playing King of the Mountain on the mounds slowplowed on the edge of the A&P parking lot, sledding on Ginny Hill, making snowmen and women, engaging in snowball fights and face washings, and tasting ice cream Mom made from snow to show how her mom made it in rural Illinois. As an adult, however, I don’t appreciate snow piled up in front of my door so I can’t get out, driving through a blizzard while peering through the window to follow the lights of the car in front of me, and thawing frozen fingers after brushing off the car. Did you know there is a word for fear of snow? Chionophobia.
The whiteness of snow makes it an apt symbol for holiness. Yes, that is why a very good girl in a fairy tale is named Snow White. In Psalm 51:9 we ask God, “Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” And God exhorts us through the prophet to set things right so that “Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18). The clothing of the angel at the tomb was white as snow. (Matthew 28:3) God’s glory is perceived as light, which is represented by the color white. Hmm. All this snow during Lent serves as a reminder to clean up our act so that we better reflect God’s goodness.
An unproven but common belief is that no two snowflakes are alike. Someone, though, has identified eighty different patterns. In their uniqueness, snowflakes are like us, handcrafted individually by God. Do I dare point out that some of us are flakier than others?
There is a parable about snow that illustrates the power of one. A branch is laden with snow. One more snowflake lands on it, and this single flake causes the branch to break. That’s probably the case with all of the caved-in roofs today: one snowflake was “the last straw.”
Despite the hardships heavy snows have caused, many are meeting it with good humor. The Kentucky police have issued an arrest warrant for Princess Elsa from the movie “Frozen.” (In case you are one of the few who haven’t heard or seen this film, Elsa has a magic power to create ice.) Someone else moaned that she would like to give up winter for Lent.
Let’s focus on the positive: What do you like most about snow?