We took the all the family to the cabin this weekend in the middle of a snowstorm. I wasn’t sure it would be a good idea, but once we were safely there, I was happy we’d made the effort. It was peaceful and calming to look out the wall of windows towards the back of Mt. Timpanogos and watch the gentle snow covering the pines and Aspens.
On Friday afternoon before our departure, I’d put on a huge snow coat, armed myself with a long-handled green rake, and spent an hour or more in the yard knocking snow off branches and trees that were bent to the ground ready to break. I went around all of our property, liberating these heavily weighed branches, knocking the 5″ to 6″ of built up snow and watching as branches sprang back up, with grateful relief. I was showered with snow over and over again, but feeling their relief from the burden was worth being showered with the cold and wet. At each tree or bush, I was amazed at how something so light and beautiful and gently floating could turn into enough cold wet weight to strip branches from trees.
The problem was the beautiful fall leaves were still on these trees. They caught and held the snow on their branches, at first lovely, the white against the yellows and golds and oranges and reds, then deadly, as the weight accumulated.
As I freed the branches, I thought of how slowly and often imperceptively influences around us can gradually begin to weigh us down, even to breaking points. What may first seem even lovely, or influences as small as snowflakes which individually seem to be inconsequential, may in fact, combine in weight or force to bring us to a breaking point, or take us out.
On April 13, 1856, Orson Pratt delivered a discourse in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. He spoke of how the power of obedience in our lives has a cumulative effect. Over time, we are strengthened by righteous living, so that when Satan’s powers are unleashed against us, we will have the strength to withstand. I thought about that as I knocked the snow off Friday afternoon. These trees got an early dump of snow, before they’d prepared to receive it after a carefree summer and a glorious Fall. Their leaves weren’t shed, their branches weren’t prepared, the trials came, and without the beating I gave them, they might have broken.
When we pulled back into the neighborhood last night, I immediately saw that our neighbor’s big glorious Flowering Pear tree was gone, all but a stump. A tree I’ve enjoyed out our windows for 10 or 12 years, magnificent in color, gone, hauled away, nothing but leaves in the snow on the ground remaining. It broke my heart. I should have gone over to help lighten its branches. Perhaps I could have saved it along with our trees. But it’s gone.
The day will come when the time for preparation is past. Orson Pratt said, “So it will be with you, whether you have the necessary preparation or not, for the Lord will say to the powers of darkness, you are now at liberty to tempt my servants in proportion to the light that I have given. Go and see if they will be steadfast to that light; use every plan so far as I permit you, and if they will yield they are not worthy of me nor of my kingdom, and I will deliver them up and they shall be buffetted . . . until they shall learn obedience by the things that they suffer. . . . Hence the propriety of preparing for these things, that when they come you will know how to conquer Satan, and not want for experience to overcome. . . .”
Snowflakes–beautiful, but deadly if we are not prepared for them, a gentle reminder to me to strengthen my core, my trunk, my roots, and my branches. I must not take it lightly.
(Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, pp.352-354)