It snowed in St. Louis last night. A blanket of four inches of perfect white piled up very neatly, flake by flake, on every surface with anything close to a horizontal plane. It would have been quite something to watch. But it happened while most of us weren’t watching, winter’s reminder of another blanket of white that covered the earth one other night while most were sleeping.

We celebrated that night recently, the night when the world slumbered in the cold wintry grip of a long winter’s night of sin and death. Snow had been in the forecast, broadcast by prophets centuries earlier: “Behold,…! Unto us…! But thou Bethlehem…!” One had it predicted most accurately, a major snowfall, a perfect covering of white: “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow!” But few were still watching when it snowed that night–a blanket of salvation sufficient to cover the earth and all mankind.

Last night’s gentle snowfall in St. Louis served as a reminder of the season past. But it was more. It was also perfectly timed to awaken us to the season soon upon us, when we will watch and remember again how it was that our though-as-scarlet sins were covered, leaving us white as snow. Today in the Soulard neighborhood of our city is the increasingly popular dog parade, marking (and marketing) the beginning of another Mardi gras celebration that will lead up to Shrove Tuesday and the season of Lent. Even putting the best construction on the parade’s purpose, we really wouldn’t need it this year. We need only look out the window this morning. We had the best of reminders last night, a blanket of four inches of perfect white,…while we weren’t watching.

Ray Hartwig