When I was a kid, I loved snow. It meant snow forts, snowballs, snowmen and plunging down steep hills on rickety toboggans. Being the youngest, I often found myself beneath piles of it with my brothers perched on top. If my sister didn’t dig me out, I might still be there. But I loved every minute of it. I loved getting even with my brothers by carefully releasing a hard-packed snowball straight at them, and then running like the wind.
But snow began to lose its appeal for me. It’s cold. It’s slippery. It gets in your boots. It covers your car, your driveway, your sidewalk. When you remove it with a shovel over and over again, you think to yourself, “This is like cleaning the house with toddlers around.” When that first November or October or July blizzard hits, we moan, whimper and grab our shovels.
Several years ago, Milton came from Uganda to stay with my son Steve. Milton had heard of snow but hadn’t seen it. The day after he arrived in Canada, the cold stuff left the dark clouds above and descended, landing all around him like a soft blanket of white. The rest of us mourned the loss of summer, but not Milton. He frolicked in the snow like a giddy school kid. He built his very first snowman. He tasted his very first snowflake. “I am so blessed to see this,” he said. “I love snow!” Shivering Canadians looked at him as if he should go look for his marbles. Milton didn’t care. He was having too much fun. “God loves me so much,” he said. “He let me see snow.”
I found myself grinning and thanking God that Milton got to see the snow. I found myself asking why I’d lost the joy of childhood, and if it would ever come back. Milton helped me think of a verse in Isaiah 53, a verse that speaks of snow. “’Come, let’s talk this over!’ says the Lord; ‘no matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can take it out and make you as clean as freshly fallen snow. Even if you are stained as red as crimson, I can make you white as wool!’”
Milton is back in Uganda where he listens to Laugh Again. Milton, God bless you, my friend. He loves you very much. And, in honour of you, I think I’ll put on 40 pounds of clothing and go build a snowman.