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Snow Day

It snowed here last week. That might not sound all that impressive to some of you, but in Nashville, it's a pretty big deal. In fact, it didn't just snow. It snowed A LOT (my potentially obnoxious use of all caps should indicate just how much it snowed). In an hour it snowed almost two inches, then kept going. That is unheard of here and for one night, I felt like I was back in Utah.

In order to protect my family from slipping, I dutifully got my flat-nosed shovel out and shoveled a little path on our front walk. It was still snowing, and I didn't want to have to shovel the whole thing later, so I decided to just do a small path and then finish after the snow had stopped.

I cleared a little path and went back in the house. A few hours later, I went back out again. The path I had shoveled was covered. So much snow had fallen that you couldn't tell it had ever been shoveled. There was no difference at all between the side that had been shoveled and the side that had not. None.

The whole sidewalk was one level strip of soft, white snow, unblemished and unbroken.

This reminded me of one of my favorite scriptures:

E'though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow
Isaiah 1:18

Why did Isaiah pick snow for this image? Obviously, snow is white and pure. But I wonder if there's more. Snow is not only pretty and white. It covers blemishes and ugliness. It fills in cracks and gaps, even large ones. When a new snow has fallen, no one can see what is underneath. You can't tell which side of the walk has been shoveled, and which side has been untouched. You can't tell where pollution and ugliness once was.

Everything is covered equally and completely.

Could this be why Isaiah used the image of snow? Not just for its obvious purity, but also for its ability to cover completely, cover over gaps and flaws and ugliness. The Atonement brings forgiveness for our sins, but it is also reparative and restorative--fixing us where we are broken and smoothing over our flaws.

Orson F. Whitney put it a lot more poetically than I can in the last few lines of The Wintry Day, Descending to a Close (one of the most under-appreciated LDS hymns, I think):

Pale through the gloom the newly fallen snow
Wraps in a shroud the silent earth below
As tho were mercy's hand had spread the pall,
A symbol of forgiveness unto all.

As someone with a lot of those cracks and blemishes, that is something I'm grateful for.


Braden Bell grew up in Farmington, Utah and earned degrees in theatre from Brigham Young University and a Ph.D. from New York University. He and his wife, Meredith, live with their five children outside of Nashville, TN, where he teaches theatre and music. Braden enjoys reading, writing, gardening and long walks with the dog. His first book, "The Road Show", will be released by Cedar Fort in June, 2010. Read more at

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