Yesterday, the second day of spring, snow fell. It’s been a long winter here in New England with storm after storm dumping piles and piles of record-setting snow as far as the eye can see. Everyone is ready for it to be gone. In fact, just yesterday morning with great hope, I pointed out to my husband the small pile remaining in the front yard. Now, it’s nowhere to be found because a fresh layer of the white stuff blankets the whole yard. Ugh! It didn’t amount to much, only an inch or so, but something seemed very wrong with its resurgence.
Unless you live in a place where snow is a regular thing, I don’t think you can really understand the psychology of the snow dweller. The first snow of the season transcends time. It is always exciting. The little kid in each of us delights in it. We remember what it was like to go sledding and to make forts and snow angels. We remember snowball fights with our siblings and the kids in the neighborhood. We remember being out for hours just having fun, chilled to the bone, but refusing to retreat. Only the setting sun drove us inside.
Over time as the winter progresses, the adult takes over. We shovel the driveway and clear the walk – yet again. We scrape the ice off the windshield before we crawl along the roads in snow induced traffic jams. The roads narrow with the increasing size of the snow banks, and those piles get dirtier with each passing day. A new storm engenders a new round of complaints. By the time March arrives, the child is pushed aside and only adult thoughts of warmth and green fill our minds. The transcendence of that first snow is chased away by the struggle of living its reality.
In today’s Old Testament reading, the prophet Isaiah speaks of snow:
Come now, let us set things right,
says the LORD:
Though your sins be like scarlet,
they may become white as snow;
Though they be crimson red,
they may become white as wool.
If you are willing, and obey,
you shall eat the good things of the land;
But if you refuse and resist,
the sword shall consume you:
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken! (Is 1:18-20)
Could there be a greater contrast than scarlet on white? I remember doing my newspaper route when I was a kid and seeing the blood of an injured paw in the snow. It doesn’t really fade the way blood usually does – oxygen changing it quickly to brown. No, its contrast lingers and remains vivid. Yet, the prophet Isaiah tells us our sins, though they “be like scarlet…may become white as snow.”
Just as the first snow transcends time and brings us back to an age of innocence, the sacrifice of Jesus transcends time, taking away our sin and restoring our innocence. There’s a catch, though: we must be “willing and obey.” Pretty simple, huh?
Easier said than done. We get distracted by the driveway that needs shoveling, the walkway that needs clearing, and the ice on the windshield. Eventually the snow is brown and unsightly. Kind of like soul: after confession our soul is pure and white, but day by day the cares of the world and the needs of the day change our focus; we fall into sin. The snow becomes gritty and dirty. We want the purity of the white snow, but we neglect the hard work of being willing and obeying.
As I surveyed the landscape this morning, the snow lay pure and white on the ground. The ugly piles of gritty, dirty snow could not be seen. The sun rose brightly and the birds chirped sweetly, full of hope. Spring is on its way. Our souls, too, can be cleansed and made new, blanketed by the scarlet white of the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.
So today, let us pray for an increase in the thirst for holiness, for a willing heart, and for a contrite spirit to obey. If you haven’t already done so, make an appointment for confession or plan to go at the scheduled time at your parish this weekend. Let it snow!
We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you because by Your Holy Cross You have redeemed the world! Anne