In second grade, my teacher read us a novel called Snow Treasure. In it the children of a small town that has been invaded by the Nazis pile the town’s treasure of gold bullion on their sleds, ride their sleds down the hill toward the shore past the Nazi barracks, and bury the gold under comical snowman. From there, men come at night and carry it to a ship where it is smuggled away. The real treasure in this book is not the gold but the courage, ingenuity, and teamwork of a community that dares to hope.
God asks Job, “Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail?” (Job 38:22) There are at least two ways to take this verse. The first is that the word “treasures” in this verse actually means “treasuries.” Who of us can say that we have been in the clouds and seen where God stores the snow, rain, and hail. It is a strange treasury indeed, constantly emptying and filling and emptying again timely blessings on the earth below.
But to me, the most profound treasure of the snow is something else. In my previous post, I gave you a riddle which contains the line, “The farther I fall the more I grow. I look like lace, but inside I’m dirt.” I forget now who it was that told me this simple profound truth. Snowflakes are started by dirt.
A droplet of water freezes onto a dust particle mid-air. Miraculously, it always freezes into the six-sided hexagon. This frozen pellet falls towards Earth collecting moisture as it falls. The moisture clings to all six sides evenly forming the six delicate, intricate, never-to-be-repeated points of the snow flake. Then we catch it on our tongues or notice it on our black glove or see it join the thousands of others heaping on the ground. But the truth is these little beauties and blanket of purity would never be possible without dirt.
Dirt. What do you know about dirt? Ugly, annoying painful dust that gets in the eye and makes it water. Grains that scar the impeccable newly-washed kitchen floor. Words that catch you in the heart and rub like that pebble in your shoe. Loss and loneliness that makes you wonder why you ever loved anyway.
Yeah, we know dirt.
But this I pray you know. It’s the truth every winter would tell. The secret of the snowflake is redemption. Dirt being transformed into beauty. And the true treasure of the snow– Those children in the book knew it though they may not have recognized it. It fueled their courage and sharpened their ingenuity.–Oh, friend, can’t you tell?
The real treasure in the snow is
The cynic sees only the dirt. The grace-full and the grateful do not the deny the dirt, but appreciate the beauty even more in light of its redemptive quality.